I hate its derivation. I am left handed, and resent the word “dexterous” as well. Harmful, dishonest, corrupt, evil, portending disaster, from the Latin for left hand, against clever, having good physical coordination, from the Latin for right? Seriously? What of those common English words “gauche” and “adroit”? My right hand is far better co-ordinated than the left hands of most right handed people. My left hand is as well co-ordinated, but for the way society is ordered for right handers- apart from my keyboard, where left fingers strike far more often than right. That was originally to slow typing down, so that the type-bars did not get stuck together by the ribbon.
And then I learn that Old English left or lyft meant “weak or useless”!!
(sounds of muffled screaming)
My left breast is very slightly larger than my right. This is the reverse of the normal problem, and on an otherwise lovely sweater where I find it particularly noticeable, I wonder if that asymmetrical button detail causes that. Um. A button detail to emphasise small left breasts. Otherwise, I love it. It is thick and warm for cold winter nights, its wild entwining cables are gorgeous, and its powder-blue colour sings to me. Then I put it on-
Everywhere, the Right-handed world pursues me!
Roget is unhelpful. It proposes foreboding, misfortune, evil, grim, weird, ominous, none of which really convey quite the same thing about the last Pope which I wished to convey; and left and gauche. “Sinister” is simply the best word. It is not like sexist language. When “police person” met with ridicule, many minds went productively to work, and now “police officer” is so natural that it is no longer “politically correct”, just normal.
I would not use “gauche”, there are many words for the prejudiced idea which have no prejudice: clumsy, for example.
This is different from reclaiming words. “Sissy”- what is wrong with that? The word “tranny” has been used to convey hatred and contempt, but if I use it and deem it free of bad connotations, then it loses its power for me; but that is only part of the process of overcoming internalised transphobia, and the word may still hurt someone who has not completed that process. “Tranny” is an offensive (or not) word for person of transness (Um. Respectful ways of referring to one marginalised group do not always translate to another.) “Sinister” is an ordinary, useful word, only objectionable for its derivation.
“Deft” for adroit or dextrous also has the advantage of being English rather than French or Latin, though Middle English. After the Norman invasion and the use of Latin in the Universities, we often have three synonyms: English simple, though sometimes seen as unrefined, French posher, Latin poshest. Use of unaffected words is winsome, though The Anglish Moot, while great fun, sometimes takes it a bit too far: wort-lore, for example.
Comment! I am dying for comments. Propose a synonym for sinister, or a concept with English French and Latin synonyms, or argue with me, or tell me I am wonderful, or abuse cack-handers. Anything!