I'm looking for the correct term for a right-handed person's right hand, and a left-handed person's left hand, and same for their other hand, where one term signifies one's "primary" hand, and the other one's "secondary" hand.

  • 2
    I voted for "dominant hand", but you may also refer to "preferential hand". For the opposite, "non-dominant hand" fits.
    – Graffito
    Apr 26, 2016 at 12:58
  • "dominant" takes the cake in my book but I wonder if you could describe a perfectly ambidextrous person this way? In this context, my understanding is that dominant would mean that nothing is equal nor better.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26, 2016 at 13:33
  • @MonkeyZeus Someone who is perfectly ambidextrous does not fit within the question's scope anyway, they don't have a primary/secondary hand distinction.
    – JAB
    Apr 26, 2016 at 16:18
  • 21 upvotes for the top answer and only 4 for OP? Come on English.SE... Apr 26, 2016 at 17:23
  • Maybe it's somewhat of a stupid question :-) Apr 26, 2016 at 17:49

2 Answers 2


The "primary" hand is generally called dominant.

Dominant hand

Operant hand generally used for performing fine motor-skills tasks (e.g., writing, holding dental instruments)

Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012 via TFD

From that, I would surmise subordinate hand for the other one.

  • 21
    I usually hear "non-dominant hand" as the alternative.
    – Devsman
    Apr 26, 2016 at 14:00
  • 6
    I would say that your speculation is just wrong: subordinate hand is almost never used. Apr 26, 2016 at 16:56
  • 4
    As per @PhilSweet's answer below, "off hand" or "weak hand" are commonly used for the non-dominant hand. While "subordinate" technically works, the word is more commonly used to indicate hierarchy or control (e.g. boss/subordinates), and the dominant hand generally exerts no direct control over the off hand.
    – Doktor J
    Apr 26, 2016 at 20:11

The non-dominant hand is commonly called the off hand. Also the weak hand. See any combat arts forum.


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