left field

Definitions

Slang

  • adjective (something) unorthodox, bizarre, unexpected. An American usage which was picked up by British journalists, musicians, etc. in the mid-1970s. The term arises from an earlier colloquial expression ‘out of left field’, used to describe something startling or totally unexpected coming from an improbable source. The field in question is the baseball field and the left field, the area to the batter’s left and beyond third base, is an area of the park which sees little action and from which the ball rarely arrives. The same thing can be said of the right field, however, and the choice of left perhaps has something to do with the overtones of unorthodoxy and radicalism inherent in ‘left’ in its political context, or simply by analogy with left-handed.
  • noun (something) unorthodox, bizarre, unexpected. An American usage which was picked up by British journalists, musicians, etc. in the mid-1970s. The term arises from an earlier colloquial expression ‘out of left field’, used to describe something startling or totally unexpected coming from an improbable source. The field in question is the baseball field and the left field, the area to the batter’s left and beyond third base, is an area of the park which sees little action and from which the ball rarely arrives. The same thing can be said of the right field, however, and the choice of left perhaps has something to do with the overtones of unorthodoxy and radicalism inherent in ‘left’ in its political context, or simply by analogy with left-handed.
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