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Out of left field

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:50 am
by uncronopio
Looking for any reasonable explanations for this idiom.

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 3:01 am
by Maximillian
I always thought it was a baseball expression. I remember coming across something on the internet some time ago suggesting it may have come from a reference to a mental hospital to the left of the left field on a baseball park in Chicago. Also there is the fact that left has since Latin times been the sinister side of the field. Anyway , neither of these suggestions really appealed to me. The first seemed to be fairly obscure and the thing about the left being always associated with the negative does not really tie in with the saying as from the left field, to me anyway, doesn't seem to mean wrong or bad, but rather something unforseen or unanticipated.

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:10 am
by tcward
The overall concensus seems to be that the origins are baseball related, but that's the extent of the agreement.

The Phrase Finder contains a humorous discussion of this expression.


Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:20 pm
by Stargzer

I like the reply, Something Wicket This Way Comes. You have to scroll to the bottom to see the reply, which comes after all the original messages.

I usually hear "in" as in "He's out in left field."

Are you sure "out of left field" didn't just come from out of the blue?


Posted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 3:15 pm
by M. Henri Day
My gut feeling regarding the asymmetry between left and right fields here is that it has more to do with the fact that most baseball players, like most people in general - it would seem that there are similarities ! - are right-handed, and that therefore most long balls are hit out to left field. Any of you statistic buffs know whether this is indeed the case ?...