Left field definition

Left field definition DEFAULT


When something comes out of left field that means it was surprising or unexpected.

Example: Cole has put on weight over the years, so he wants to go on a diet. “I’m gonna eat healthier starting right now!” he exclaimed. However, his determination was quickly put to the test when out of left field his wife came home with a box full of donuts. (In other words, the donuts were an unexpected surprise.)

Synonyms / Similar Phrases:

1. Out of the blue
2. Out of nowhere
3. Took him/her by surprise

A baseball pitcher throwing out of left field.

The Origin Of “Out Of Left Field”

The phrase out of left field might originate from baseball. How so? Let us see why:

In baseball, there are three outfield positions—the right fielder, the center fielder, and the left fielder. When a ball is hit hard enough, the outfielders job is to catch it, or if the ball touches the ground, they retrieve the ball and throw it back to the infield.

The saying out of left field must obviously be referring to the left side of a baseball field, and the thing coming “out” of it would be the baseball. But why is this phrase specifically about the left field, why not the others? Well, concerning that, there’s one explanation that suggests the following:

Imagine this scenario—A batter hits the ball and there is a base runner sprinting towards home plate. In this situation, the base runner is facing away from the left field. So if the left fielder scoops up the ball and throws it to the baseman on home plate, the runner would be unable to see it coming, thus it would catch him by surprise.

Example Sentence(s)

  • I was enjoying a nice walk on a clear summer day, that is, until a dog came out of left field and started barking at me.

Similar Examples:

  • Tom was exercising on the treadmill when out of the blue his leg got a cramp, so he had to stop.
  • I was eating dinner when out of nowhere I heard a loud noise outside.

Tip: Choose a letter from the menu at the top. It will take you to a list of popular sayings that you can browse through.

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Sours: https://knowyourphrase.com/out-of-left-field

Meaning of left field in English

The outfielders sought refuge in the bullpen behind leftfield, and fans began exiting or seeking shelter in higher seats.


No one expects a punch to come out of leftfield.

From ABC News

It's not like someone else went and manipulated it from leftfield.

From Billboard

If only there was a superhero movie on its way that seemed fun, inventive, and entirely out of leftfield.

From Wired

He plays third and leftfield well, is a proven hitter and has one year left on his contract for $8 million.

From cleveland.com

Linking cries with risk of autism is not an association drawn from leftfield, however; cries, in general, have been correlated with brain development.


Now 94, he was back with his son, who spent $10,000 for two seats along the leftfield wall.

From Chicago Tribune

Nothing surprises me about what grand juries do, but this allegation out of leftfield about racial overtones shocked me.

From CBS Local

He hit a triple down the leftfield line.

From CBS Local

He exceeded their expectations -- by several left-field feet.

From New York Post

It left his bat at 105 mph, easily clearing the scoreboard over the tequila bar just beyond the left-field fence.

From OCRegister

A film festival, then, would seem like a left-field eyebrow-raiser.

From Los Angeles Times

That's the shortest distance down the left-field line in baseball, but it's also the tallest fence in the game.


The first one, on his third swing, sailed over the left-field fence.

From New York Post

Even with a 42-foot-tall screen in play, the left-field wall stood only 251 feet from home plate, creating an attractive target for batters.


These examples are from corpora and from sources on the web. Any opinions in the examples do not represent the opinion of the Cambridge Dictionary editors or of Cambridge University Press or its licensors.

Sours: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/left-field
  1. Cat gasket
  2. Left field definition
  3. Flame stitch wallpaper

Strange, and unexpected. Lucky/Unlucky.

Most baseball batters are right handed (therefore swing the bat from right to left) and hit a ball out into left field.
The batter immediately drops the bat and runs to the right to get to first base.
It is quite difficult for a good left field ball to hit the ground in far left field, get picked up, and thrown, accurately across the entire field to the first baseman, before the batter can get to first base. If this does happen, its an incredible throw, from way out in left field. Totally unexpected.

This lead is right out of left field; it'll be crucial in catching the thief.

by the intolerant December 17, 2015

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What you do when someone tries to make fun of you for whatever reason it may be, Such as where you grew up, where you live/how you live, etc, and then agreeing with it and then running way out into left field with it, this usually requires you to think really outside the box and generally use any stereotype you can come up with that relates to your situation and then making the situation just so extremely out there that it makes barely any sense. (Try to make people realize how retarded they sound by saying the stupid shit they say)

Danny: Josh tried to make fun ofwhere I come from so I just completely ran I just had to Run With It Way Out Into Left Field . He hasn't said anything to me in a few days about it.

by thatCanuck May 29, 2011

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Sours: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=out%20of%20left%20field
Youth Baseball Responsibilities: Left Field

left field

This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.

This shows grade level based on the word's complexity.


  1. the area of the outfield to the left of center field, as viewed from home plate.
  2. the position of the player covering this area.

Slang. a position or circumstance that is remote from an ordinary or general trend.



Give these words new meaning by adding them to your lexical repertoire and proving that untranslatable words translate pretty well to your vocab.

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Idioms about left field

    out in left field, Slang. completely mistaken; wrong.

Origin of left field

An Americanism dating back to 1855–60

Words nearby left field

left colic flexure, left colic vein, left-eyed, left-eyed flounder, left face, left field, left fielder, left-footed, left-footer, left gastric vein, left gastro-omental vein

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Words related to left field

incorrect, tasteless, unsuitable, unseemly, improper, wrong, irrelevant, disproportionate, oblivion, nothingness, nowhere, garbage, ill-suited, ill-timed, inapplicable, incongruous, indecorous, inept, malapropos, off

How to use left field in a sentence

  • By then, Harrison was in left field, continuing his ongoing trip around the diamond.

    Josh Harrison is the right blend of versatility and offense for Nationals|Jesse Dougherty|March 4, 2021|Washington Post

  • Not to be left behind, progressives in neighboring Wisconsin clamored to join the cutting edge of public health.

    Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers|Michael Schulson|July 27, 2016|DAILY BEAST

  • Gay marriage was the hot-button fight on the left and right.

    Jeb Bush’s Unseen Anti-Gay Marriage Emails|Jackie Kucinich|January 9, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • Clad in a blue, striped button-down, a silver watch adorning his left wrist, Huckabee beams on the cover.

    Huckabee 2016: Bend Over and Take It Like a Prisoner!|Olivia Nuzzi|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • Meanwhile, almost exactly 30 years after the trial, the judge left his home to board a steamboat and was never heard from again.

    New York’s Most Tragic Ghost Loves Minimalist Swedish Fashion|Nina Strochlic|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • The eating disorder field remains divided over the potential efficacy of such measures.

    How Skinny Is Too Skinny? Israel Bans ‘Underweight’ Models|Carrie Arnold|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST

  • What need to look to right or left when you are swallowing up free mile after mile of dizzying road?

    The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol|William J. Locke

  • He distinguished himself in several campaigns, especially in the Peninsular war, and was raised to the rank of field marshal.

    The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell

  • She is quite true, but not wise, and your left hand must not know what your right hand is doing.

    Checkmate|Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

  • The vision—it had been an instantaneous flash after all and nothing more—had left his mind completely for the time.

    The Wave|Algernon Blackwood

  • She had just left the wharf at Cincinnati for Louisville, with 225 passengers on board, of whom but 124 were saved.

    The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell

British Dictionary definitions for left field


informalregarded as being outside the mainstream; unconventional

Word Origin for left-field

C20: from baseball term left field, the area of the outfield to the batter's left, regarded as the scene of little action

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with left field

see out in left field.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Sours: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/left-field

Field definition left

Out of left field

US slang expression

This article is about an American slang term. For the Hank Williams Jr album, see Out of Left Field.

"Out of left field" is American slang meaning "unexpected", "odd" or "strange". The phrase came from baseball terminology, referring to a play in which the ball is thrown from the area covered by the left fielder to either home plate or first base, surprising the runner. Variations include "out in left field" and simply "left field".[1]

According to the Major League Baseball website the term means "crazy." Cook County Hospital (by the West Side Grounds, the Chicago Cubs first location under what is now the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine) had a mental institution behind left field, and "patients could be heard yelling and screaming things at fans behind the left field wall."[2] This is disputed since there is no evidence of the phrase being used before the 1940s, and the Cubs moved from the ballpark in 1915. [3]

There is another usage that comes also from baseball. During a time period, the shape of the outfield in Yankee Stadium roughly approximated an oval, with the "long" portion pointing to left-center. A left-fielder would thus typically be stationed further back from the action than the center or right fielders, as he would have a greater amount of ground to cover. Hence, "out in left field" meant one was furthest from the action taking place at home-plate, and the most likely to draw erroneous, fanciful conclusions about that action; thus, in a general sense, someone out in the left field would be someone who was not taking part in the action of whatever endeavor we were talking about.

Music industry[edit]

Popular music historian Arnold Shaw wrote in 1949 for the Music Library Association that the term "out of left field" was first used in the idiomatic sense of "from out of nowhere" by the music industry to refer to a song that unexpectedly performed well in the market.[4] Based on baseball lingo, a sentence such as "That was a hit out of left field" was used by song pluggers who promoted recordings and sheet music, to describe a song requiring no effort to sell.[4] A "rocking chair hit" was the kind of song which came "out of left field" and sold itself, allowing the song plugger to relax.[4] A 1943 article in Billboard magazine expands the use to describe people unexpectedly drawn to radio broadcasting:

Latest twist in radio linked with the war is the exceptional number of quasi-clerical groups and individuals who have come out of left field in recent months and are trying to buy, not promote, radio time.[5]

Further instances of the phrase were published in the 1940s, including more times in Billboard magazine and once in a humor book titled How to Be Poor.[6][7][8]

Later explanations[edit]

In May 1981, columnist William Safire asked readers of The New York Times to send him any ideas they had regarding the origin of the phrase "out of left field"—he did not know where it came from, and did not refer to Shaw's work.[9] On June 28, 1981, he devoted most of his Sunday column to the phrase, offering up various responses he received.[10][11] The earliest scholarly citation Safire could find was a 1961 article in the journal American Speech, which defined the variation "out in left field" as meaning "disoriented, out of contact with reality."[11][12] Linguist John Algeo told Safire that the phrase most likely came from baseball observers rather than from baseball fans or players.[13]

In Safire's Political Dictionary, Safire writes that the phrase "out of left field" means "out of the ordinary, out of touch, far out."[14] The variation "out in left field" means alternately "removed from the ordinary, unconventional" or "out of contact with reality, out of touch."[14] He compares the term to left-wing politics and the Left Coast—slang for the liberal-leaning coastal cities in California, Oregon and Washington.[14]

In 1998, American English professor Robert L. Chapman, in his book American Slang, wrote that the phrase "out of left field" was in use by 1953.[15] He did not cite Shaw's work and he did not point to printed instances of the phrase in the 1940s. Marcus Callies, an associate professor of English and philology at the University of Mainz in Germany, wrote that "the precise origin is unclear and disputed", referring to Christine Ammer's conclusion in The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms.[16] Callies suggested that the left fielder in baseball might throw the ball to home plate in an effort to get the runner out before he scores, and that the ball, coming from behind the runner out of left field, would surprise the runner.[16]

From the Way Out In Left Field Society: "The phrase "way out in left field" has evolved to mean an eccentric, odd, misguided or peculiar statement or act. The origin lies in the West Side Grounds that the Chicago Cubs called home from 1893 to 1915. As legend has it, a mental hospital was located directly behind the left field wall. The institute housed mental patients who could be heard making strange and bizarre comments within listening distance of players and fans. Thus, if someone said that you were "way out in left field," the person was questioning your sanity and comparing you with a mental patient.[17][3]


  1. ^Partridge, Eric; Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry (2007). The Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Psychology Press. p. 396. ISBN .
  2. ^"Cubs originally called West Side home | MLB.com". July 20, 2015. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015.
  3. ^ ab"Cubs originally called West Side home".
  4. ^ abcShaw, Arnold (December 1949). "The Vocabulary of Tin-Pan Alley Explained". Notes. Music Library Association. 7 (1): 33, 48, 50. doi:10.2307/889665. JSTOR 889665.
  5. ^"Religion All of a Sudden: Groups With Self-Styled Piety Capitalizing on War Nerves by Buys on Indies But Nets Sneer". The Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 55 (17): 8. April 24, 1943. ISSN 0006-2510.
  6. ^Smith, Bill (February 8, 1947). "Follow-up Review". The Billboard. Nielsen Business Media: 39. ISSN 0006-2510.
  7. ^Webman, Hal; Fischler, Alan (June 19, 1948). "The Record Year". The Billboard. Nielsen Business Media: 14. ISSN 0006-2510.
  8. ^Fay, Frank (1945). How to Be Poor. Prentice-Hall. p. 47.
  9. ^Safire, William (May 10, 1981). "Word-Watchers at Work". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  10. ^Smith, Red (July 1, 1981). "Sportspeak and Stuff". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  11. ^ abSafire, William (June 28, 1981). "Out Of Left Field". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  12. ^Hukill, Peter B. (May 1961). "The Spoken Language of Medicine: Argot, Slang, Cant". American Speech. The American Dialect Society. 36 (2): 145–151. doi:10.2307/453853. JSTOR 453853.
  13. ^Safire, William (1997). "Out of Left Field". In John Thorn (ed.). The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball: An All-Star Lineup Celebrates America's National Pastime. Sterling Publishing. pp. 270–273. ISBN .
  14. ^ abcSafire, William (2008). Safire's Political Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 384. ISBN .
  15. ^Chapman, Robert L. (1998). American Slang (2 ed.). HarperCollins. p. 374. ISBN .
  16. ^ abCallies, Marcus; Keller, Wolfram R.; Lohöfer, Astrid (2011). "Widening the goalposts of cognitive metaphor research". Bi-Directionality in the Cognitive Sciences: Avenues, Challenges, and Limitations. Human Cognitive Processing. 30. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 74. ISBN .
  17. ^"The Way Out In Left Field Society". www.bc3200.com.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_left_field
Leftfield - Inspection Check One


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