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Author Topic: Right-hand man  (Read 629 times)

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Online Dim HonTopic starter

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Right-hand man
« on: April 24, 2009, 02:19:01 PM »
The meaning of what a right-hand man has changed in the last few decades to mean little more than a yes man or PA, but I'm trying to research what right-hand men use to be - a bodyguard who walked at a gentleman's right hand (the gentleman's lady on his left) so he could draw his sword and defend them against ruffians. I can't find anything about them on any of my usual sources, or even on Wiki. I think the time period they were in fashion was in the 1800, though I could be wrong.

Has anyone else even heard of this sort of thing, because the lack of anything on the internet makes me worry that I could have dreamt it up. o.O

Offline Oniya

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2009, 04:42:04 PM »
Located at http://www.answers.com/topic/assistant

Quote
Right Hand Man

Unlike yes man, the term right hand man has positive connotations. Some assert that the term is based on the fact that most people are right-handed. Understood this way, the term refers to one who has the responsibility, knowledge and understanding, authority and ability to implement a plan articulated by one in a position of authority.

The term right hand man may also be based on the idea of a king having his adviser sit at his right side. Understood this way, the term refers to one who informs and advises a person in a position of authority, instead of one who implements the plans of authority.

In Ancient Greece, soldiers typically fought in a formation called a phalanx, where co-operation between soldiers was vital. Each soldier carried his shield on his left side, while his right side was protected by the man standing to his right. Understood this way, the term refers to one who is indisposable; a protector.

A biblical explanation also exists; in the King James Version of the Bible, Jesus is said to be "at the right hand of the Father (God). see Mark 16:19. Luke 22:69. Acts 2:33. Acts 5:31. Acts 7:55. Acts 7:56. This reference, in light of the whole of the biblical narrative, casts Jesus as either or both an implementor of a plan and/or one who is indisposable.

Online Dim HonTopic starter

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2009, 05:31:06 PM »
Thanks, but it doesn't mention the guys I'm trying to research at all.  ???

Offline Oniya

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2009, 06:15:49 PM »
Thanks, but it doesn't mention the guys I'm trying to research at all.  ???

Sorry - misinterpreted the search.  I thought that you were looking for the origin of the term, and that the scenario you gave was one possibility.

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2009, 06:58:06 PM »
I have heard it basically the same way you have .. the bodyguard whose right hand was free to draw a sword without their arm bumping into the one they'd be protecting. Unfortunately I couldn't tell you if that was the origin of it, or just something someone thought made sense.

Online Dim HonTopic starter

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2009, 08:12:22 PM »
I'd done some more researching and found that batmen sound almost like what I'm searching for, but they are military, and too late on in history.

Searching the online etymology site, I found

Quote
Right hand, fig. for "indispensable person" is recorded from 1528; right-hand man first attested 1665

which isn't much.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2009, 08:20:48 PM by Eden »

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2009, 09:29:24 PM »
Perhaps you might look up Gallowglass or galleighlaigh?  They were Celtic warriors whose duty was to throw themselves upon the spears of assassins when their laird was threatened.  You might get some insight there.

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Re: Right-hand man
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2009, 11:07:17 PM »
Closer, but still not quite. This is really starting to annoy me...