Left wing/right wing

Posted by ESC on February 15, 2003

In Reply to: Right/Left Provenance posted by S. on February 14, 2003

: Hello, I was just hoping some one might know how and why "right" and "left" came to be used as short-hand for "conservative" and "liberal" respectively. Thanks in advance for any help.

LEFT WING, RIGHT WING - "The ideological spectrum; reading left to right, radical, liberal, centrist or moderate, conservative, reactionary. The presiding officers of the French National Assembly seated the radicals in the 'cote gauche' (left side), the moderates in the center directly in front, and the conservative nobles on the right. Like so many political terms, the 'wings' derived from military use, with the use of 'left wing' of an army traceable to 1707." From Safire's New Political Dictionary by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).