the Left


1 [left]
of, pertaining to, or located on or near the side of a person or thing that is turned toward the west when the subject is facing north (opposed to right ).
(often initial capital letter) of or belonging to the political Left; having liberal or radical views in politics.
Mathematics. pertaining to an element of a set that has a given property when written on the left of an element or set of elements of the set: a left identity, as 1 in 1 ⋅ x = x.
the left side or something that is on the left side.
a turn toward the left: Make a left at the next corner.
the Left.
the complex of individuals or organized groups advocating liberal reform or revolutionary change in the social, political, or economic order.
the position held by these people. Compare right ( def 33a, b ).
(usually initial capital letter) Government.
the part of a legislative assembly, especially in continental Europe, that is situated on the left side of the presiding officer and that is customarily assigned to members of the legislature who hold more radical and socialistic views than the rest of the members.
the members of such an assembly who sit on the left.
Boxing. a blow delivered by the left hand.
Baseball. left field ( def 1 ).
toward the left: She moved left on entering the room.

1125–75; 1935–40 for def 6; Middle English left, lift, luft, Old English left idle, weak, useless, Kentish form of lyft- (in lyftādl palsy); cognate with Dutch, Low German lucht; akin to Middle English libbe (modern dial. lib) to castrate, cognate with Dutch, Low German lubben Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
left1 (lɛft)
1.  (usually prenominal) of or designating the side of something or someone that faces west when the front is turned towards the north
2.  (usually prenominal) worn on a left hand, foot, etc
3.  (sometimes capital) of or relating to the political or intellectual left
4.  (sometimes capital) radical or progressive, esp as compared to less radical or progressive groups, persons, etc
5.  on or in the direction of the left
6.  a left side, direction, position, area, or partRelated: sinister, sinistral
7.  (often capital) the supporters or advocates of varying degrees of social, political, or economic change, reform, or revolution designed to promote the greater freedom, power, welfare, or comfort of the common people
8.  to the left radical in the methods, principles, etc, employed in striving to achieve such change
9.  boxing
 a.  a blow with the left hand
 b.  the left hand
Related: sinister, sinistral
[Old English left idle, weak, variant of lyft- (in lyftādl palsy, literally: left-disease); related to Middle Dutch lucht left]

left2 (lɛft)
the past tense and past participle of leave

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, from Kentish form of O.E. lyft- "weak, foolish" (cf. lyft-adl "lameness, paralysis," E.Fris. luf, Du. dial. loof "weak, worthless"). It emerged 13c. as "opposite of right," a derived sense also found in M.Du., Low Ger. luchter, luft. Ger. link, Du. linker "left" are from O.H.G. slinc, M.Du.
slink "left," related to O.E. slincan "crawl," Sw. 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). 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, Latvian laevus, and Rus. levyi). Gk. 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." Political sense arose from members of a legislative body assigned to the left side of a chamber, first attested in Eng. 1837 (by Carlyle, in ref. to the Fr. Revolution), probably a loan-translation of Fr. la gauche (1791), said to have originated during the seating of the Fr. 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 1612 in various senses of "irregular, illicit," such as the phrase left-handed compliment (1881). Phrase out in left field "unorthodox, unexpected" is attested from 1959. Lefty "left-handed person" is 1886, Amer.Eng., baseball slang. The Left Bank of Paris has been associated with intellectual and artistic culture since at least 1893.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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