Word Geek Wednesday: Sinister

Welcome to Word Geek Wednesday, where we explore words in the context of pop culture! Our word today is...

sin·is·ter /ˈsinəstər/ adj. threatening or portending evil, harm, or trouble

It's a scary word unto itself, but its origins are an interesting look at how words can take on new meanings down the line. "Sinister" is simply the Latin word for the direction "left," but ancient Greeks took it a step further and associated anything on the left side of the body as unlucky or unclean. and this connotation spread throughout history. In the Bible, those judged as sinful are on the left side of Christ in the end times, while in India it's considered impolite to hand things to people using their left hand.

Eventually, anything related to left took on the current negative definition, from left-handed compliments to having two left feet. The word sinister followed suit.

In pop culture, sinister has been an easy shortcut to name evil characters. The Marvel Comics supervillain supergroup Sinister Six first appeared in 1964 and was composed of ne'er-do-wells within Spider-Man's rogues gallery.

Not to be outdone, the Squadron Sinister appeared in 1969, battling the Avengers as tongue-in-cheek pastiches of DC Comics' Justice League!

Also in the pages of Marvel is Nathaniel Essex, who decided it would be a good idea to have an easy way to show where his virtues lie when he took on the name Mr. Sinister!

On the Distinguished Competition's side, it's a wonder why the Guardians of Oa trusted a guy literally named Sinestro with a Green Lantern ring. Surely that's a red flag in and of itself?

Speaking of Sinestro, his son Sinson will team up with the son of General Zod (say it five times fast) in the upcoming comic series Sinister Sons!

I'm surprised it took this long to have a horror movie called Sinister. Then again, being sinister is horror's bread and butter.

It's fascinating how the word sinister took a sharp left turn into a word associated with malevolence! Now let's see you use this in everyday conversation! Have a word you would like me to check out? Leave them in the comments below!

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