Huh? It can mean "hand", but when compounded in words which are "literally" translated using English "hand", the actual meaning is something else?
Bob Myers: Yes. Consider the English term "boathand".
Bill: And cowhand, hired hand.
I thought the kanji for "up" and "hand" and "down" and "hand" made Jyouzu and Heta, not uwate and shitate. The meanings are the same, but I read them differently.
There are many readings for these kanji, for Uwate/Jyouzu alone, the EDICT project lists 5 distinct ways of pronouncing the word. Uwate carries in one definition "skillful (only in comparisons)" while Jyouzu carries merely "skillful". I leave it to a native speaker to properly explain the nuances between the different pronunciations, which this dictionary seems to imply. -Agilis
Bob Myers: There are two primary readings and three primary meanings for this compound.
Other pronunciations shown in various dictionaries (joushu, kamite, joute) are either rare or specialized. The use of these characters to write uma(i) (also "good at", an "adjective"), is a case of "ateji" (use of characters purely for their semantic value ignoring their phonology, or vice versa).
Bill: If I remember correctly, Jouzu also used to mean a player of 7-dan strength.