southpaw

noun

south·​paw ˈsau̇th-ˌpȯ How to pronounce southpaw (audio)
: left-hander
especially : a left-handed baseball pitcher
southpaw adjective

Did you know?

Southpaw is of obscure origin. A popular theory holds that it comes from the onetime position of ballparks in relation to the sun. Supposedly, late 19th-century ballparks were laid out so that the pitcher looked in a westerly direction when facing the batter. The throwing arm of a left-handed pitcher would then be to the south-hence the name southpaw. This theory of its origin is undermined, however, by the fact that the original use of southpaw does not involve baseball at all. Rather, the term was used as early as 1848 to describe, simply, the left hand or a punch or blow given with the left hand. Today, we often use southpaw as a good-natured term for a left-handed person, but the word is sometimes viewed as stigmatizing by left-handed people.

Examples of southpaw in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The southpaw was one of three pitchers in 2023 to have 18 or more starts of 6 IP and 2 ER or less allowed, with just Gerrit Cole and Blake Snell as his company. Tyler Small, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024 The other southpaw already on the 40-man, Erik Miller, was optioned to the minors earlier this week. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 15 Mar. 2024 The southpaw pitched three innings against the Mariners. Jaylon Thompson, Kansas City Star, 7 Mar. 2024 Adding Miller to the 40-man roster this offseason put him on the fast track as the second southpaw, though Garrett and Ethan Small — both acquired this month — could both factor in this season. Evan Webeck, The Mercury News, 14 Feb. 2024 While those years have drifted into the rear-view mirror, the southpaw still averaged more than 95 mph with his fastball last year, ranking in the 71st percentile among MLB pitchers. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 23 Jan. 2024 The southpaw won American League Pitcher of the Month in September for his five-start performance, allowing three runs and racking up 43 strikeouts over 30 innings. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 12 Jan. 2024 Instead, though, Tellez stayed squared at the plate against the southpaw and drilled a 1-0 sinker through the right side to score William Contreras and put Milwaukee up, 2-1. Journal Sentinel, 28 Apr. 2023 Just 22 of his 289 plate appearances this season — and 186 of his 1,360 career trips to the plate — have come off southpaws. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'southpaw.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1871, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of southpaw was in 1871

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Cite this Entry

“Southpaw.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/southpaw. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

southpaw

noun
south·​paw ˈsau̇th-ˌpȯ How to pronounce southpaw (audio)
: a left-handed person
especially : a left-handed baseball pitcher
southpaw adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on southpaw

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