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Word for Wednesday: Left

January’s Word for Wednesday theme is Janus words. A Janus word is a word with contradictory meanings. These words are also known as contronyms and auto antonyms.

So far, we’ve looked at the words weather and dust. Today’s word is left

The word left is used to describe the act of departing. For example: 

  • They have already left the party. 
  • The UK left the European Union in 2020. 
  • She left on her adventure around the world last week. 

It is also used to describe what is remaining. For example: 

  • There are plenty of people left at the party. 
  • How much food is left?
  • She left her friends behind when she went travelling. 

Left comes from the Old English ‘læfan’ which means ‘to allow to remain in the same state’ and comes from the Proto Germanic ‘laibjanan’, from the PIE root ‘leip-‘ meaning ‘to stick or adhere’.

The word came to mean ‘to depart' in around 1200, probably from the notion of ‘leaving someone or something behind’.

19 Jan 2022
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