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.