I don’t know who gets the word-a-day and of that who reads the newsletter, but this little tidbit about the old Underdog cartoon was in there and I thought it interesting.
From: Mike Babb (email@example.com) Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--ambisinister
Not knowing how old you are, I don’t know whether or not you remember a TV cartoon from the early ’60’s called Underdog. He was a canine (ala Mighty Mouse) that fought crime, as they all did in those days. His arch enemy was “Simon Bar Sinister”. This was a very neat trick for the writers to play, almost in the spirit of Rocky and Bullwinkle. In English heraldry, the “bar sinister” denotes bastardy. If the coat-of-arms of a person had a stripe (bar) from his right shoulder to his left hip, (bar dexter) he was legitimate. If the bar went from left shoulder to right hip, it denoted bastardy, which in that day didn’t quite have the stigma it has now. Therefore, the writers of Underdog had a villain named “Simon the Bastard”, and most people didn’t realize it. Amazing how clever these early cartoons were. Beany (sp?) and Cecil (the seasick sea serpent) had a physical-fitness nut named “Tearalong, the Dotted Lion”. He was, of course, feline.