What does sinister mean?

sinister meaning in General Dictionary

stemming from wicked characteristics or causes; sinful or dishonorable

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  • on or beginning the wearer's kept
  • threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
  • regarding left hand and/or side of the left-hand left opposed to dexter or appropriate
  • On the left-hand, or the region of the left-hand; kept; -- against dexter, or appropriate.
  • Unlucky; inauspicious; devastating; harmful; bad; -- the kept being generally viewed as the unfortunate part; as, sinister impacts.
  • incorrect, as springing from indirection or obliquity; perverse; dishonest; corrupt; because, sinister aims.
  • Indicative of hiding wicked or harm; boding covert risk; because, a sinister countenance.

sinister meaning in Etymology Dictionary

early 15c., "prompted by malice or ill-will, going to mislead," from Old French senestre, sinistre "contrary, untrue; unfavorable; left" (14c.), from Latin sinister "left, on left part" (opposite of dexter), of unsure source. Maybe indicating precisely "the reduced or weaker hand" [Tucker], but Klein and Buck suggest it really is a euphemism (see remaining (adj.)) connected with the root of Sanskrit saniyan "more of use, more beneficial." With contrastive or relative suffix -ter, such as dexter (see dexterity). The Latin term was found in augury within the sense of "unlucky, bad" (omens, particularly bird flights, seen on the left-hand had been considered to be portending misfortune), and therefore sinister acquired a sense of "harmful, undesirable, negative." It was from Greek impact, reflecting early Greek practice of facing north when observing omens. In genuine Roman auspices, the augurs encountered south and left was positive. Therefore sinister in addition retained a secondary good sense in Latin of "favorable, auspicious, lucky, fortunate." Meaning "evil" is from belated 15c. Utilized in heraldry from 1560s to point "left, left." Bend (not "bar") sinister in heraldry indicates illegitimacy and preserves the literal sense of "on or through the remaining part" (however in heraldry it is through the view of bearer of shield, perhaps not the observer from it).

sinister - German to English


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  • shady [dubious]

Sentence Examples with the word sinister

In the existing portraits of him those who never saw him are apt to discover a strangeness which seems to them sinister or even affected.

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