A clumsy phrase

William Safire, proprietor of The New York Times Magazine's "On Language" column, discusses current word and language trends every Sunday. In yesterday's column, he used an interesting phrase while talking about something else:

Top helpers are not always helpful. “McCain Sidetracked by Aide’s Terror Gaffe” was the banner headline in The Washington Times in June, generated by his usually sage adviser Charles Black’s impolitic comment to Fortune magazine that a terror attack “would be a big advantage” for his candidate, who is highly credentialed on national-security matters. McCain had to quickly dissociate himself from the cack-handed remark: “I can’t imagine why he would say it.”

The Times has a helpful feature that lets you double-click on a word or phrase, and a pop-up window gives you a definition. Here, it told me:

cack-hand·ed (kăk'hăn'dĭd) adj. Chiefly British. 1. Left-handed. 2. Awkward; clumsy. [Perhaps from Old Norse keikr , bent backwards; akin to Danish keite, left-handed.]

Not flattering to southpaws out there, but I thought it was a vivid adjective once you know what it means.