Open main menu



Alternative formsEdit


First attested in English in 1646[2]: from Latin ambilaevus (ambi- (both) + laevus (left))[3], a calque of Ancient Greek ἀμφαρίστερος (ampharísteros, with two left hands, awkward, clumsy)[4] from ἀμφί (amphí, on both sides) + ἀριστερός (aristerós, left).



ambilevous (comparative more ambilevous, superlative most ambilevous)

  1. (rare)[2][5] Having equally bad ability in both hands; clumsy; butterfingered.
    • 1646: Sir Thomas Browne and Nath Ekins, Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1658 republication), page 164
      Again, Some are Ἀμφαριστεροὶ as Galen hath expreſſed : that is, Ambilevous or left-handed on both ſides; ſuch as with agility and vigour have not the uſe of either : who are not gymnaſtically compoſed : nor actively uſe thoſe parts. Now in theſe there is no right hand : of this conſtitution are many women, and ſome men, who though they accuſtome themſelves unto either hand, do dexterouſly make uſe of neither.
    • 1953: The Pediatric Clinics of North America, page 607 (W.B. Saunders Co.)
      Whereas the ambidextrous person is regarded as one who is capable of using both hands with equal dexterity, there are others, referred to as ambilevous, who use both hands equally awkwardly.
    • 1960: Harry Bakwin and Ruth Mae Morris Bakwin, Clinical Management of Behavior Disorders in Children, page 330 (Saunders)
      The ambilevous (the opposite of ambidextrous) child is unable to use either hand more skillfully than the other, but is equally awkward in the use of each.
    • 1998: Yoav Ariel, Shlomo Biderman, and Ornan Rotem, Relativism and Beyond, page 262 (BRILL; →ISBN
      I as a right-handed person do not have the option of becoming genuinely ambidextrous, literally one with ‘two right hands’. And I surely must guard against sinking into one is who is doubly left-handed, or ambilevous. (We may notice the prejudice uncovered by etymology.) But I can, by will and practice, lessen the native inferiority of my weaker side.