si·​nis·​tral ˈsi-nə-strəl How to pronounce sinistral (audio)
: of, relating to, or inclined to the left: such as
of a gastropod shell : having the whorls coiling counterclockwise down the spire when viewed with the apex toward the observer and having the aperture situated on the left of the axis when held with the spire uppermost and with the aperture opening toward the observer compare dextral sense b

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There is no position in the Satsuma snail Kama Sutra that will allow a dextral and sinistral snail to mate. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 7 Dec. 2010 Yes, Obama and McCain are both sinistral, a rather unlikely occurrence since just 7-10% of adults are left handed. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 30 July 2010 Six of 32 dextral snails produced 17 sinistral offspring out of 6,302 total offspring. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 2 June 2020 Its shell coiled counterclockwise to the left instead of the right, which made Jeremy a sinistral snail. Kristen Rogers, CNN, 2 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sinistral.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1534, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sinistral was in 1534

Dictionary Entries Near sinistral

Cite this Entry

“Sinistral.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
si·​nis·​tral ˈsin-əs-trəl How to pronounce sinistral (audio) sə-ˈnis- How to pronounce sinistral (audio)
: of, relating to, or inclined to the left
especially : left-handed


2 of 2 noun
: a person exhibiting dominance of the left hand and eye : a left-handed person
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