Friday, February 4, 2011

Ambidextrous Vs. Ambisinister


Quite difficult looking words….aren’t they?

Let’s start with ‘Ambi’, which is common between the two words – Ambi is not a word but a root which means ‘both’ or ‘both sides’.

‘Ambidextrous’ is someone who is skillful in using both the right and left hand equally well.

Similarly, ‘Ambisinister’ is someone who is clumsy or unskillful with both the hands.

12 comments:

  1. One of my favourite ambi- words is 'ambiversion', which the OED defines as 'a condition of balance between extrovert and introvert features in the personality.'

    I like 'ambisinister', although it does make you sound a lot worse than you actually are! (ie. a little bit evil) : o )

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  2. Hey, thanks for that - Ambiversion - yet to meet someone who is an ambivert.

    Yeah, wonder why they had to use the word 'sinister' to indicate clumsy in this case (ambisinister)

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    1. It comes from that latin word sinister, which means "left handed" as well as the same definition as the english word "sinister". So the word ambisinster literally means "two left hands".

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  4. I don't see how anyone can dub anyone else Ambivert because no one knows the exact balance between introvert vs extrovert personality. I mean its not really defined or anything. Honestly there's probably no such thing.

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    1. It doesn't necessarily imply that they are at the perfect balance, but that they are very much a mix of both. In fact, I would say that ambiverts are somewhat common.

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  5. In Latin, "dexter" means "right" and "sinister" means "left", so "ambidextrous" would be "both right" and "ambisinister" would be "both left"

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  6. @Shilpa Vernekar I think ambisinister is 'two left hands', just as ambidextrous translates to 'having two right hands'.. The evil connotation of sinister came later perhaps

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  7. I would assume it comes from the religious derivative of the right hand being positive and the left being negative.

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    1. Close, but no cigar. Dextrous means right handed, sinister means left handed. The sinister meaning of sinister is not new nor religious. In olden times when the world was dangerous and most people went about armed, and everyone was right handed (it hasn't been that long since people tried to force left handed children to be right handed) if you met someone you didn't know you offered him your right hand as a sign you would not grab your weapon (with your right hand) and attack him. If he was to be trusted he would accept your right hand with his right hand and you would both feel safe. If on the other "hand" he was actual left handed, he could still attack you, he was not to be trusted and was sinister, thus, the evil connotation of being left handed. Most people being right handed, if they tried to use their left hand would be awkward. Hence, being ambisinister meant you were as clumsy as if you had two left hands, just as we say a bad dancer has two left feet.

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    2. Wow! Thanks Wayne. That's very interesting. Your explanation helps make things clearer :)

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  8. I love being ambidextrous although it's not something in my every-waking-moments thoughts. It just is what it is.

    Whatever the task I use whichever hand does the best job.

    I use a sewing needle left handed - but couldn't do hand quilting rocking motion so I switched to my right hand and Voila! the right hand sewing rocked the cradle!!

    Although I'm a rightie, I can write with either hand, and upside/down and backwards and at the same time. As a child-early adult I could write two different things at the same time.

    A college professor told me that these things would be "considered a learning disability" - and I laughed at him and told him to go back to school.

    In elementary school the worse problem I endured was using right hand scissors with my left hand. But I could not use them with my right hand. I hated using scissors.

    Now I have left handed scissors and also have scissors with a spring that can be used with either hand.

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