Left VS. Right: Why is the right hand used in handshake greetings?

Q: A young staff member of mine asked me why it is correct etiquette to shake hands with your right hand rather then your left and I could not give him a good answer other then that is how everyone does it.  Could you possibly clarify this for me?



A: The following excerpt is from the website Anything Left-handed: “Whilst Julius Caesar was left-handed it was he who instructed all of his Roman subjects to adopt the right-handed handshake.  Maybe this was because it left his weapon hand free, whether greeting either friend or foe.  Similarly, it is thought that a reason for preferring the right-hand greeting is that this generally was the weapon hand thus clasping them together allowed neither party an advantage on meeting for the first time.  Interestingly, Lord Baden Powell chose the left-hand for the Scouting handshake.  Two theories exist.  One that the left hand is nearer to the heart and the second is that using the non-weapon hand was a sign of trust.”

One Comment

  1. Jo

    If I’m not mistaken, until fairly recently, wasn’t the right hand/right side of body/etc considered the “correct” one in just about everything? (Thus the Latin name for the left being “sinister”?) No doubt that had a lot to do with it.

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