dexterous

adjective
dex·​ter·​ous | \ ˈdek-st(ə-)rəs How to pronounce dexterous (audio) \
variants: or less commonly dextrous

Definition of dexterous

1 : mentally adroit and skillful : clever her dexterous handling of the crisis
2 : done with mental or physical skill, quickness, or grace : done with dexterity : artful a dexterous maneuver
3 : skillful and competent with the hands a dexterous surgeon

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Other Words from dexterous

dexterously adverb
dexterousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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.

Examples of dexterous in a Sentence

They praised her dexterous handling of the crisis. The movie is a dexterous retelling of a classic love story.
Recent Examples on the Web The satellite’s robot arms will do demo work to show that dexterous servicing and inspection are possible, and then SpaceLogistics—which ultimately got the contract—will keep using the craft after the mission is over. Sarah Scoles, Wired, "There Are No Real Rules for Repairing Satellites in Space—Yet," 10 Dec. 2020 Lymer’s company, Maxar, is working on a NASA mission called OSAM-1, a demo dexterous satellite which is set to launch in 2024. Sarah Scoles, Wired, "There Are No Real Rules for Repairing Satellites in Space—Yet," 10 Dec. 2020 The dexterous blues guitarist who led the first incarnation of Fleetwood Mac in a career shortened by psychedelic drugs and mental illness. Anchorage Daily News, "Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2020," 8 Dec. 2020 As for Haddington, its robot arm is considered one of the most light-weight and dexterous currently being sold. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "British online grocer Ocado, known for its automated warehouses, acquires two U.S. robotics companies," 2 Nov. 2020 Susan’s affectionate, dexterous, sensible activity was never more wanted, or more effectual. Longreads, "“The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female," 27 Mar. 2020 The researchers argued—controversially—that the dinosaur might have been more dexterous in the water than its distant, land-dwelling relatives like Tyrannosaurus rex. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "Groundbreaking Fossil Suggests Spinosaurus Is First Known Swimming Dinosaur," 30 Apr. 2020 What might ultimately save Asian elephants is the knowledge that if these giant creatures ever stop ambling across their continent—with their wise eyes, their dexterous trunks and their curious minds—humanity will be the less for it. Justin Mott, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Learning How Asian Elephants Think—in Order to Save Them," 10 Apr. 2020 What might ultimately save Asian elephants is the knowledge that if these giant creatures ever stop ambling across their continent—with their wise eyes, their dexterous trunks and their curious minds—humanity will be the less for it. Justin Mott, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Are Learning How Asian Elephants Think—in Order to Save Them," 10 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dexterous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dexterous

1609, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dexterous

Latin dextr-, dexter on the right side, skillful

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Time Traveler for dexterous

Time Traveler

The first known use of dexterous was in 1609

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Cite this Entry

“Dexterous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dexterous. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for dexterous

dexterous

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of dexterous

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

dexterous

adjective
dex·​ter·​ous | \ ˈdek-stə-rəs How to pronounce dexterous (audio) , -strəs \

Kids Definition of dexterous

1 : skillful with the hands a dexterous potter
2 : clever sense 2 a dexterous chess player
3 : done with skill The skier made a dexterous jump.

Other Words from dexterous

dexterously adverb

dexterous

adjective
dex·​ter·​ous
variants: also dextrous \ ˈdek-​st(ə-​)rəs How to pronounce dexterous (audio) \

Medical Definition of dexterous

1 : skillful and competent with the hands
2 : mentally adroit and skillful

Other Words from dexterous

dexterously adverb
dexterousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on dexterous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dexterous

Nglish: Translation of dexterous for Spanish Speakers

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