Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, belonging to, located on, or being the side of the body to the north when the subject is facing east.
  • adj. Of, relating to, directed toward, or located on the left side.
  • adj. Located on the left side of a person facing downstream: the left bank of a river.
  • adj. Of or belonging to the political or intellectual left.
  • n. The direction or position on the left side.
  • n. The left side.
  • n. The left hand.
  • n. A turn in the direction of the left hand or side.
  • n. The people and groups who advocate liberal, often radical measures to effect change in the established order, especially in politics, usually to achieve the equality, freedom, and well-being of the common citizens of a state. Also called left wing.
  • n. The opinion of those advocating such measures.
  • n. Sports A blow delivered by a boxer's left hand.
  • n. Baseball Left field.
  • adv. Toward or on the left.
  • v. Past tense and past participle of leave1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. The opposite of right; toward the west when one is facing north.
  • adj. pertaining to the political left; liberal
  • adv. On the left side.
  • adv. Towards the left side.
  • n. The left side or direction.
  • n. The ensemble of left-wing political parties. Those holding left-wing views as a group.
  • n. A punch delivered with the left fist.
  • v. Simple past tense and past participle of leave.
  • v. remaining
  • v. permitted, allowed to proceed.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to that side of the body in man on which the muscular action of the limbs is usually weaker than on the other side; -- opposed to right, when used in reference to a part of the body. Also said of the corresponding side of the lower animals.
  • adj. Situated so that the left side of the body is toward it.
  • n. That part of surrounding space toward which the left side of one's body is turned.
  • n. Those members of a legislative assembly (as in France) who are in the opposition; the advanced republicans and extreme radicals. They have their seats at the left-hand side of the presiding officer. See Center, and Right.
  • of leave.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Belonging to that side of the body of man and other animals which is directed toward the west when the face or front is turned to the north; sinistral: the opposite of right: as, the left hand, arm, leg, ear, or eye; the heart beats on the left side of the body.
  • Being on the left-hand side; situated on the side toward which the left hand of a person is or is supposed to be turned.
  • n. The left-hand side; the side opposite to the right: as, turn to the left (hand); the left (wing) of an army; to wheel from right to left.
  • n. In the politics of continental Europe, that part of a legislative assembly which sits on the left of the president; specifically, the liberal or democratic party, as that party, according to custom, always sits on this side of the house.
  • n. A worthless creature.
  • n. In music and stage directions abbreviated L.
  • Toward the left; sinistrad: as, they scattered right and left.
  • Preterit and past participle of leave, leave.
  • A preterit and past participle of leeve.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. intended for the left hand
  • n. the hand that is on the left side of the body
  • n. the piece of ground in the outfield on the catcher's left
  • n. those who support varying degrees of social or political or economic change designed to promote the public welfare
  • adj. being or located on or directed toward the side of the body to the west when facing north
  • n. location near or direction toward the left side; i.e. the side to the north when a person or object faces east
  • n. a turn toward the side of the body that is on the north when the person is facing east
  • adv. toward or on the left; also used figuratively
  • adj. of or belonging to the political or intellectual left
  • adj. not used up

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English lyft-, weak, useless (in lyftādl, paralysis).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English left, luft, leoft, lift, lyft, from Old English left, lyft ("weak, useless"), from Proto-Germanic *luft- (compare Scots left ("left"), North Frisian lefts, leeft, leefts ("left"), West Frisian lofts ("left"), Dutch dialect loof ("weak, worthless"), dialectal Low German lucht ("left"), from *lubjanan "to castrate, lop off" (compare dialectal English lib, West Frisian lobje, Dutch lubben), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)leup, *(s)lup "hanging limply". More at lob, lop. (Wiktionary)
Middle English left, variant of laft ("remaining, left"), from Old English lǣfd, ġelǣfd, past participle of lǣfan ("to leave"). More at leave. (Wiktionary)
From a verbal use of leave ("permission"), perhaps connected to Middle English leven ("to give leave to, permit, concede"), from Old English līefan, lȳfan ("to allow"). More at leave. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Small point of pedantry... the Sedgefield speech was not on the day Blair left Downing St well he did of course leave Downing Street to get there, but it wasn't the day he *left* Downing Street.

    Wonder how much that seat cost?

  • Only people who cling to old-fashioned customs still fold over the right side of a visiting-card to show that the card was left _in person_, and also fold over the _left side_ to show that the call was intended for _all_ the women of the household.

    Etiquette

  • A square knot is tied by holding an end of a bandage or cord in each hand, and then passing the end in the _right_ hand over the one in the left and tying; the end now in the _left_ hand is passed over the one in the right and again tied.

    A Practical Physiology

  • It should also be remarked that the cow-pony is guided, not by pulling either the right or left rein, but by the rider carrying his bridle hand over to the _left_ if he wants to go to the left, and vice versa.

    Ranching, Sport and Travel

  • And she’s left no leggicies to speak on, —left it all in a lump to her husband’s nevvy.

    VII. Enter the Aunts and Uncles. Book I—Boy and Girl

  • Likewise if you move the rear sight to the left (take left windage), the bullet will strike to the left_.

    Manual of Military Training Second, Revised Edition

  • Pressing and rubbing _downward_ with the left hand on the lower _left_ side of the belly will do much to induce a movement of the bowels.

    Manual of Military Training Second, Revised Edition

  • Raise the skirt, thus, the left foot in advance; the _left_, Peggy, child of despair! now bend the right knee, and slowly, slowly, sink thus, with grace and dignity.

    Three Margarets

  • When we speak of _the left hand_, the form _left_ is really Kentish, and occurs in the _Ayenbite of

    English Dialects From the Eighth Century to the Present Day

  • Away flies the punt to the left, and he is just about to bend to the sculls with the force of Goliath, when he perceives his mistake -- the divergence was to the _left_!

    The Red Man's Revenge A Tale of The Red River Flood

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Comments

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  • nigh

    April 19, 2011

  • Awesome verse! Question-- without a physical demonstration, how do you describe to someone you can't see, where left is?

    July 19, 2009

  • Oh I had a cleft, with a capital C
    Took away the left, oh yes dear me
    So what was left, was a capital C
    Say can you tell me,
    How can that B?
    How can that C,
    Be what was left?
    When I took left,
    As part of my theft?

    A verse from the theme of the exciting TV series, Cleft Behind, in which a certain member of the U.S. congress finds the Rapture is just a poorly-spelled text msg away.

    December 10, 2008

  • Especially since there is a definition for right. Searching for left on wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn does return results, so maybe the problem is with Wordie's implementation.

    December 10, 2008

  • No Wordnet definition for this word. How bizarre.

    December 10, 2008

  • No child left (wing) behind.

    May 14, 2008

  • Contronymic in the sense: departed vs. what remains.

    January 31, 2007