left

{{11}}left (adj.) c.1200, from Kentish and northern English form of O.E. lyft- "weak, foolish" (Cf. lyft-adl "lameness, paralysis," E.Fris. luf, Du. dialectal loof "weak, worthless"). It emerged 13c. as "opposite of right" (the left being usually the weaker hand), a derived sense also found in cognate M.Du., Low Ger. luchter, luft. But German link, Du. linker "left" are from O.H.G. slinc, M.Du. slink "left," related to O.E. slincan "crawl," Swed. linka "limp," slinka "dangle."
Replaced O.E. winestra, lit. "friendlier," a euphemism used superstitiously to avoid invoking the unlucky forces connected with the left side (see SINISTER (Cf. sinister)). The Kentish word itself may have been originally a taboo replacement, if instead it represents PIE root *laiwo-, meaning "considered conspicuous" (represented in Gk. laios, L. laevus, and Rus. levyi). Greek also uses a euphemism for "left," aristeros "the better one" (Cf. also Avestan vairyastara- "to the left," from vairya- "desirable"). But Lith. kairys "left" and Lettish kreilis "left hand" derive from a root that yields words for "twisted, crooked."
As an adverb from early 14c. As a noun from c.1200. Political sense arose from members of a legislative body assigned to the left side of a chamber, first attested in English 1837 (by Carlyle, in reference to the French Revolution), probably a loan-translation of Fr. la gauche (1791), said to have originated during the seating of the French National Assembly in 1789 in which the nobility took the seats on the President's right and left the Third Estate to sit on the left. Became general in U.S. and British political speech c.1900.
Used since at least c.1600 in various senses of "irregular, illicit;" earlier proverbial sense was "opposite of what is expressed" (mid-15c.). Phrase out in left field "out of touch with pertinent realities" is attested from 1944, from the baseball fielding position that tends to be far removed from the play. To have two left feet "be clumsy" is attested by 1902. The Left Bank of Paris (left bank of the River Seine, as you face downstream) has been associated with intellectual and artistic culture since at least 1893.
{{12}}left (v.) past tense and pp. of LEAVE (Cf. leave) (v.).

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Left — Left, a. [OE. left, lift, luft; akin to Fries. leeft, OD. lucht, luft; cf. AS. left (equiv. to L. inanis), lyft[=a]dl palsy; or cf. AS. l[=e]f weak.] 1. Of or pertaining to that side of the body in man on which the muscular action of the limbs is …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • left*/*/*/ — [left] adj I 1) on the side of your body that is opposite to the right Ant: right He wore a wedding ring on his left hand.[/ex] 2) on the left side of something the bottom left corner of the screen[/ex] We took a left turn when we should have… …   Dictionary for writing and speaking English

  • left — left1 [left] adj. [ME (Kentish) var. of lift < OE lyft, weak, akin to EFris luf, weak] 1. a) designating or of that side of one s body which is toward the west when one faces north, the side of the less used hand in most people b) designating… …   English World dictionary

  • left — [1] ► ADJECTIVE 1) on, towards, or relating to the side of a human body or of a thing which is to the west when the person or thing is facing north. 2) relating to a left wing person or group. ► ADVERB ▪ on or to the left side. ► NOUN 1) (th …   English terms dictionary

  • left — left; left·ish; left·ism; left·ments; left·most; left·ward; left·ist; left·ward·ly; left·wards; …   English syllables

  • Left — may refer to: * Left (direction) * Left (album), an album by Hope of the States * Left wing politics, the political trend or ideology← (left or left arrow) may refer to: * Assignment (computer science), for instance in the programming language… …   Wikipedia

  • left — n. group of people who hold radical and socialistic political views; left side, side opposite the right; left turn; punch made with the left hand (Boxing) adj. of or pertaining to the left, located on the left; opposite the right; of or belonging …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Left — Left, n. 1. That part of surrounding space toward which the left side of one s body is turned; as, the house is on the left when you face North. [1913 Webster] Put that rose a little more to the left. Ld. Lytton. [1913 Webster] 2. Those members… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • left — LEFT, (1) lefţi, s.m., (2) lefturi, s.n. (înv.) 1. s.m. Monedă de aur sau argint (în valoare de cinci ducaţi), din care se făceau salbe. 2. s.n. Obiect de podoabă femeiască în formă de colier sau de medalion. – Din ngr. leftó(n) monedă mică .… …   Dicționar Român

  • left — [adj1] on west side when facing north hard to left, larboard, near, nigh side, port, portside, sinister, sinistral, south; concepts 581,583 Ant. right left [adj2] politically radical leftist, left wing, liberal, progressive, revolutionary,… …   New thesaurus

  • left — /left/ adjective 1. on the side of the body which usually has the weaker hand, not right ● The numbers run down the left side of the page. ● Put the debits in the left column. 2. not with others ● 10m new shares were left with the underwriters… …   Dictionary of banking and finance

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