Talk:southpaw

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More info[edit]

Since I don't know anything about properly editing the Wiktionary, could someone please edit this article to include information such as Southpaw_stance, goofyfoot, mollydooker, etc. SimplyIrresistible 01:08, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Deletion discussion[edit]

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southpaw[edit]

"A left-handed pitcher." Main sense is "One who is left-handed, especially in sports." There's just no need for this specification, as in baseball southpaw meaning 'one who is left-handed'. Notice as lefty there is no special baseball sense even though lefty is the most common term for it by far. Renard Migrant (talk) 14:55, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

  • Delete precisely per nom. bd2412 T 15:17, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
  • Keep. In baseball, "southpaw" is used either exclusively or almost exclusively for a pitcher. I believe the term actually originated in baseball. I have doubts about the use of the term in other sports. Does anyone refer to a left-handed basketball player, hockey player, or soccer player as a "southpaw"? Why would they? I could just see someone applying it to a left-handed quarterback, but probably not to other football players. And even then, it would be applying baseball terminology to football, which isn't necessarily wrong, but speaks to the relatively great influence that baseball has had on English. I would reorganize the senses as: 1. (baseball) a left-handed pitcher; 2. (from sense 1) a left-handed person. I don't believe the other sense is verifiable in a sense other than "a left-handed person". P Aculeius (talk) 16:01, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
    ""southpaw" is used either exclusively or almost exclusively for a pitcher" Good point, I hadn't thought of that. Put me down as abstain. Though I thought it originated in boxing. Renard Migrant (talk) 16:07, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
    It is definitely used in boxing. Can we confirm which sport used it first? bd2412 T 16:13, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
Etymonline says it was first used in 1885, referring to pitchers in baseball. It also says that "south paw" for "left hand" is attested in boxing slang from 1848. Chuck Entz (talk) 16:44, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I can't imagine that the use of "south paw" for a boxer did not appear as "southpaw" for over thirty years, or that the baseball meaning did not develop from it. bd2412 T 17:48, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
There's a difference between a person's "south paw", meaning their left hand, and a "southpaw", meaning a left-handed person. I believe I've heard that left-handed boxers sometimes fight differently than right-handed ones, but since boxing isn't a team sport, and nobody chooses to fight a right-handed or left-handed boxer due to the advantages of doing so, I think it's perfectly understandable if left-handed boxers didn't immediately become known as "southpaws" merely because they were "south-pawed". P Aculeius (talk) 18:19, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I note that the earliest use of "Southpaw" that I can find is as a nickname with no relation to sports. Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours (1874), Volume 16, page 308: "The boys drank several times before composing themselves into their accustomed seats and leaning-places; but it was afterward asserted, and Southpaw — the one-armed barkeeper — cited as evidence, that none of them took sugar in their liquor". bd2412 T 22:28, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I have read the baseball explanations for how south came to mean "left". How did it come to mean it before the supposed baseball-field orientation etymology? How are cricket pitches preferentially oriented? DCDuring TALK 23:35, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I always thought it had to do with south being opposite the preferred direction, as evidenced by going south meaning taking a turn for the worse, just as left is (see, for instance, left-handed compliment and the etymology of sinister). Chuck Entz (talk) 23:58, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
That's a good explanation, probably better than the one about the field's orientation, if not as well-known. As for the bartender, I would say that his nickname has the same origin as that of a pitcher (or any ballplayer), but it's unlikely that the use of the term in baseball is derived from its use in the novel. Possibly it was a widespread term for a left-handed person at the time it was used in the novel and when it was applied to ballplayers. But if so, the term came to be so tightly associated with baseball that people have long assumed that it originated with baseball. I think we'd need more examples than one character in a novel, if the author didn't say that it was a widely-known term for a left-handed person at the time. The two uses almost certainly arose independently, but may have a common source. P Aculeius (talk) 00:29, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
  • OED (2011) has this to say: noun
1. A person's left hand. 1813 (4 cites)
2. a. A left-handed person. 1871 (5 cites)
b. Baseball. A left-handed pitcher. 1887 (6 cites)
c. gen. A left-handed sportsperson. 1925 (4 cites) (e.g's of tennis, tenpin bowling, and shooting)
3. Boxing. A boxer who leads with the right hand and guards with the left. 1910 (5 cites)
adj.
1. a. Left-handed. Also in extended use: left-footed. 1886 (6 cites)
b. Of a boxer: that leads with the right hand and guards with the left. 1914 (3 cites)
2. fig. Backhanded, ironic. rare. 1957 (1 cite)

So everything except the last meets CFI. Perhaps we should have all other defs. The speculation about which came first and which derived from which is not really relevant, except that as the general sense didn't come first, then it becomes harder (but not impossible) to say that we should remove the specific senses. For my own part, I don't think "catch-all" defs should be the goal in cases where specific usages are far more frequent.--Sonofcawdrey (talk) 10:07, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. Sounds like all these are well-attested except the last (and it might be worth checking to see if there are more examples of that before deleting it). And I think the derivation is obvious, even if the use of the term predates its appearance in literature (which seems all but certain). P Aculeius (talk) 13:32, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
@Chuck Entz The sense development from south is not obvious, though Chuck's belief seems very plausible. Can we find any support for it? DCDuring TALK 13:39, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Keep. Renard Migrant (talk) 15:49, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Kept. bd2412 T 16:08, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

RFV discussion: November 2015–March 2016[edit]

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Rfv-sense: left-handed person who writes upside-down (?). Difficult to figure out if this sense really exists. It was added by User:Cork-host more than 11 years ago as one of that user's last edits. This, that and the other (talk) 10:03, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

Barack Obama signs at his desk2.jpg
Oh right, yeah, there are two schools of thought for writing left-handed, either a mirror image of a right-hander or with the wrist curled towards back towards the arm. This is quite a good image (it says photo credit Wikimedia Commons but I don't have the file name). As far as I know it's not a meaning of the word southpaw though. Given that southpaw means left-handed. I wonder if it's just an error. Renard Migrant (talk) 14:52, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
I've added a link to the image on Commons. SpinningSpark 21:04, 27 November 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm left-handed, and when doing "joined-up writing" I tend to write from over the top instead of from underneath the writing. It's a bit of a problem with a fountain pen when you smudge what you've written. Is that what is meant? Donnanz (talk) 11:18, 26 November 2015 (UTC)
I assume that's what the person who cooked up this definition meant, but the question is: do people really use the word "southpaw" that to mean that, or is it a case of e-thumb-twiddling? I've never heard it used that way, and I don't see any citations for it. I suspect it may have arisen as the author's guess as to the original meaning of the word, which has now been debunked if that's the case (see current discussion at RfD). P Aculeius (talk) 13:36, 26 November 2015 (UTC)