Tuesday, May 18, 2010



I added a new link (no that is not sinister!) to my favorite websites. An online Etymology Dictionary. I love words, and have talked about it before. I recently found a new blog called, Chortle at My Girth, (which is not sinister either! but did indeed make me chortle upon reading) and one of his posts was about favorite words. I did a post very similar, one of my first posts from a few years ago, and I never followed up on that!!

Now today, when I was studying, I learned the medical term for left ear, auris sinistra, and it reminded me of one of my favorite words. Sinister. (There it is! You knew it was coming!) I had to chortle when I looked up the etymology of the word sinister, as my father's family is littered with lefties, many of my favorite people are indeed lefties!

For all of you lovers of words, here is the etymology of Sinster and I hope you get a chortle out of it!

sinister Look up  sinister at Dictionary.com
1411, "prompted by malice or ill-will," from O.Fr. sinistre "contrary, unfavorable, to the left," from L. sinister "left, on the left side" (opposite of dexter), perhaps from base *sen- and meaning prop. "the slower or weaker hand" [Tucker], but Buck suggests it's a euphemism (see left), connected with the root of Skt. saniyan "more useful, more advantageous." The L. word was used in augury in the sense of "unlucky, unfavorable" (omens, especially bird flights, seen on the left hand were regarded as portending misfortune), and thus sinister acquired a sense of "harmful, unfavorable, adverse." This was from Gk. influence, reflecting the early Gk. practice of facing north when observing omens; in genuine Roman auspices, the left was favorable. Bend (not "bar") sinister in heraldry indicates illegitimacy and preserves the lit. sense of "on the left side."
Hmmm...splains a lot about my family! Also splains a lot about other things called, "Left" such as politics and California (left coast). Royalty-Free (RF) Clip Art Collection: Behaviors Clipart


Mary Bennett said...

We learned sinistra in Latin class for left and dextra(I think ) for right. The non dexterity of eighties with their left hand must be from sinister influence

Lily said...