"southpaw" = 'left hand' (1813)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Oct 22 19:22:11 UTC 2009

OED2 has "southpaw" = 'a person's left hand' from 1848. Here it is
contrasted with "right paw" in an 1813 item in Philadelphia's comic
newspaper _The Tickler_ (addressed to editor "Toby Scratch 'em"), with
bonus dialectal commentary:

"For the Tickler", _The Tickler_ (Philadelphia), June 30, 1813, p. 1/4
(via America's Historical Newspapers)

Dear Toby,
Being in a room the other night where HONEST BOB happened to come in
contact with a late number of your useful paper, his _Irish_ eye in
the general glance over it chanced to rest on "Bow, Vow, Vow," when
the Pat-riot in the fulness of his HONEST heart, exclaimed, "Arrah, by
my _shoal_ these _Yaunkees_ are the _divils_ boys at spaking V for W,
so much that by the hill o'hoath in their very _dogs_ have _pecked_ it
up, for instead of barking, Bow, Wow, Wow, as they ought it's --- it's
--- (growing impatient) -- arrah _luk_ here _mon_, and convince
yourself," said he, holding up the Tickler, in the right paw, between
the ceiling and the floor, and with the south paw pointing to the
"bow, vow, vow."

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list