: having or showing skill, cleverness, or resourcefulness in handling situations
an adroit leader
adroit maneuvers
adroitly adverb
adroitness noun

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Adroit goes back to an Old French word meaning "handsome or elegant" as well as "skilled in combat." The adjective is still used to imply skillfulness, but usually not of the physical kind. Adroit most often describes cleverness that achieves one's purpose in spite of difficulties.

Choose the Right Synonym for adroit

clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving.

clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude.

a person clever with horses

adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties.

an adroit negotiator

cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating.

a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects

ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something.

an ingenious software engineer

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

Examples of adroit in a Sentence

Rumor has always played a role in politics, but rarely have the backstage operatives been so adroit, and so cynical, in their use of vitriol. Walter Shapiro, Time, 10 July 1989
He was adroit with money and was blessed with the extraordinary Spanish gift of prolific, and even inchoate, invention. V. S. Pritchett, "Goya … ," 1975, in A Man of Letters1985
Family medicine … is constructed around the unquantifiable idea that a doctor who treats your grandmother, your father, your niece, and your daughter will be more adroit in treating you. John McPhee, Table of Contents, 1984
She is adroit at handling problems. with an adroit flick of the wrist, flipped the omelet into the air and landed it squarely back in the pan
Recent Examples on the Web The adroit reshufflings of narrative and perspective in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ and ‘Poor Things’? Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 The fashion house is known for its adroit use of off-kilter patterns, which, in the skilled hands of Risso, convey a cerebral, never-twee aesthetic that is no less reflected in this new line. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 25 Aug. 2023 These mother-and-son exchanges rinse and repeat in the first stages of the storytelling, under the adroit direction of Rob Lutfy, mingling tension and absurdity. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 June 2023 Six months ago, his historic landslide victory was widely lauded, viewed as the triumph of a politically adroit change-maker whose centrist policies had swept him to power. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, 7 May 2023 The Premonitions Bureau, an adroit debut from the New Yorker staff writer Sam Knight, draws us into a world not-that-far-gone in which psychic phenomena were yet untamed by science and uncanny sensations still whispered of the supernatural, of cosmic secrets. Ian Beacock, The New Republic, 25 Aug. 2022 Both men were adroit in working the local political system, each was fixated on focal sepsis as the cause of psychosis, and each came to lose his capacity for objectivity in the pursuit of his goal. Neuroskeptic, Discover Magazine, 11 Jan. 2015 Jem Bartholomew’s adroit exposition of his subject, Frank Turnbridge, left a lasting effect on me. Longreads, 27 Dec. 2022 Leonardo’s astonishing inventions and discoveries are illustrated here, by eight physically adroit actors, on a set by Scott Bradley inspired by the transformative genius of Leonardo himself. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adroit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French, going back to Old French, "handsome, elegant, skilled (in combat)," from a-, prefix, perhaps with intensive value (going back to Latin ad- ad-) + droit "straight, direct, true, regular," going back to Latin directus "straight, direct" — more at dress entry 1

First Known Use

1652, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of adroit was in 1652


Dictionary Entries Near adroit

Cite this Entry

“Adroit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adroit. Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: having or showing great skill or cleverness
an adroit leader
the candidate's adroit use of television
adroitly adverb
adroitness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on adroit

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