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adjective dex·ter·ous \ˈdek-st(ə-)rəs\

Simple Definition of dexterous

  • : having or showing great skill or cleverness : showing dexterity

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of dexterous

  1. 1 :  mentally adroit and skillful :  clever <her dexterous handling of the crisis>

  2. 2 :  done with dexterity :  artful <a dexterous maneuver>

  3. 3 :  skillful and competent with the hands <a dexterous surgeon>

dexterously adverb
dexterousness noun

Examples of dexterous in a sentence

  1. They praised her dexterous handling of the crisis.

  2. The movie is a dexterous retelling of a classic love story.

Did You Know?

Dexterous comes from the Latin word dexter, meaning "on the right side." Since most people are right-handed, and therefore do things more easily with their right hand, dexter developed the sense of skillful. English speakers crafted dexterous from dexter and have been using the resulting adjective for anyone who is skillful-in either a physical or mental capacity-since at least the early 1600s. The adjective ambidextrous, which combines dexter with the Latin prefix ambi-, meaning "both," describes one who is able to use both hands in an equally skillful way.

Variants of dexterous

also dextrous play \ˈdek-st(ə-)rəs\

Origin of dexterous

Latin dextr-, dexter on the right side, skillful

First Known Use: 1609

Synonym Discussion of dexterous

dexterous, adroit, deft mean ready and skilled in physical movement. dexterous implies expertness with consequent facility and quickness in manipulation <unrolled the sleeping bag with a dexterous toss>. adroit implies dexterity but usually also stresses resourcefulness or artfulness or inventiveness <the magician's adroit response to the failure of her prop won applause>. deft emphasizes lightness, neatness, and sureness of touch or handling <a surgeon's deft manipulation of the scalpel>.

DEXTEROUS Defined for Kids


adjective dex·ter·ous \ˈdek-stə-rəs, -strəs\

Definition of dexterous for Students

  1. 1 :  skillful with the hands <a dexterous potter>

  2. 2 :  clever 2 <a dexterous chess player>

  3. 3 :  done with skill <The skier made a dexterous jump.>

dexterously adverb

Medical Dictionary


adjective dex·ter·ous

Medical Definition of dexterous

  1. 1:  skillful and competent with the hands

  2. 2:  mentally adroit and skillful

dexterously adverb
dexterousness noun

Variants of dexterous

also dextrous \ˈdek-st(ə-)rəs\play

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up dexterous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


expressing little or no emotion

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