from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Suggesting or threatening harm or evil.
  • adjective Causing or intending harm or evil; wicked.
  • adjective Portending misfortune or disaster; ominous.
  • adjective Attended by or causing misfortune or disaster.
  • adjective Archaic On the left side; left.
  • adjective Heraldry Situated on or being the side of a shield on the wearer's left and the observer's right.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Left, as opposed to right; on the left side; specifically, in heraldry, noting the left-hand side of the person who carries the shield on his arm (therefore the right-hand side of the spectator): the sinister part of the escutcheon is opposed to the dexter part (see dexter).
  • On or toward the left or unlucky side; hence, of ill omen; inauspicious; threatening or suggesting evil.
  • Bringing evil; harmful; malign; unfortunate in results.
  • Unpleasant; disagreeable.
  • Malicious; evil; base; wrong.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective On the left hand, or the side of the left hand; left; -- opposed to dexter, or right.
  • adjective Unlucky; inauspicious; disastrous; injurious; evil; -- the left being usually regarded as the unlucky side.
  • adjective Wrong, as springing from indirection or obliquity; perverse; dishonest; corrupt.
  • adjective Indicative of lurking evil or harm; boding covert danger.
  • adjective (Her.) See under Bar, n.
  • adjective (Astrol.) an appearance of two planets happening according to the succession of the signs, as Saturn in Aries, and Mars in the same degree of Gemini.
  • adjective See under Escutcheon.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Inauspicious, ominous, unlucky, illegitimate (as in bar sinister).
  • adjective Evil or seemingly evil; indicating lurking danger or harm.
  • adjective Of the left side.
  • adjective heraldry On the left side of a shield from the wearer's standpoint, and the right side to the viewer.
  • adjective obsolete Wrong, as springing from indirection or obliquity; perverse; dishonest.

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

  • adjective stemming from evil characteristics or forces; wicked or dishonorable
  • adjective on or starting from the wearer's left
  • adjective threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments


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

[Middle English sinistre, unfavorable, from Old French, from Latin sinister, on the left, unlucky.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English sinistre ("unlucky"), from Old French sinistra ("left"), from Latin sinestra ("left hand").


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  • From Latin, sinister, meaning left.

    In heraldry, forming, or situated on, the left half of a shield (regarded from the bearer's point of view; see also dexter). Bend sinister usually indicated a bastard line.

    February 5, 2007

  • 'Sinister' wouldn't sound so sinister without all the 's's. That's my theory.

    July 17, 2009

  • "I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome . . . "

    July 26, 2009