The Opposite of Right

Is left. Or wrong. Does that mean that left = wrong?

My wife received a call on the way home from a party, then told me about it:

“He asked whether I’d left the party, because he’d left his scarf. I said I’d find out if anyone was left there.”

Left = “departed,” then “didn’t take,” then “still present.”

4 Responses to “The Opposite of Right”

  1. June 11, 2007 at 8:10 pm #

    Didn’t I do this bit on ROM a while back? I’m too lazy to check.

  2. June 12, 2007 at 9:08 am #

    I don’t know. But you weren’t in the car when Pauline said it.

  3. June 12, 2007 at 2:06 pm #

    Yes, left is wrong and right is right. This is true in many languages.

    And, as your lovely wife has noted, “left” is very flexible. Based on your previous screed, I think you could compose an entire novel using only the words “You” and “Left”.

  4. June 12, 2007 at 8:12 pm #

    Kevin, I’m sure that the fact that “right” means both “correct” and “opposite of left” isn’t a coincidence. I wouldn’t even be sure which definition came first, and implied the other.

    The OED (God bless its soul) gives us a quote for “In accordance with facts or the truth of the case” from 950, but the earliest it has for the direction is 1300.

    But I assume that both words were in use in some form before English was written.

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