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

On tape, Cutcliffe noticed that Jones’s hands were soft like a middle infielder’s, and his dexterous fingers helped him hang on to the snap while scanning for throwing lanes. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, "Can the Giants Really Bank on Daniel Jones?," 7 Aug. 2019 The creature requires a dexterous performer inside the suit and a Grady-esque handler to engage curious visitors. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "The real stars of 'Jurassic World - The Ride' are the freakily lifelike roaming dinosaurs," 23 July 2019 The 26-year-old Davis has everything a modern big man needs: a seven-and-a-half-foot-wingspan, dexterous touch at the rim or on the perimeter, an ability to leave the floor faster than everyone around him. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "Anthony Davis and LeBron James Are Uniquely Suited to Win," 17 June 2019 But with Thompson and dexterous rapper Black Thought still at the fore, The Roots have grown ever more assured and ambitious, especially in concert. 8 p.m. Aug. 30, The Event Center, Harrah’s Resort SoCal, 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center. San Diego Union-Tribune, "San Diego summer concerts go from ‘A’ (Anderson.Paak) to ‘Z’ (The Zombies)," 13 June 2019 Equal parts lithe and toned, every pair of superhuman, crescent jumping limbs was more dexterous than the next. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "How Bob Fosse Productions Transformed Beauty, From Directional Eyes to Power Ponytails," 9 Apr. 2019 Grant's dexterous movie career took off in the '90s. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Richard E. Grant's Oscar Nomination Is Long Overdue," 24 Feb. 2019 In Tesla’s case, the human body and brain proved, for the time being, more dexterous at running wires and hoses through a car’s machined parts and knitting them all together. Russ Mitchell, latimes.com, "Tesla drops reservation system, opens Model 3 orders to anybody," 10 July 2018 Workers might lose out when robots like the one pictured below become more dexterous. Christopher Mims, WSJ, "How Robots and Drones Will Change Retail Forever," 15 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for dexterous

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for dexterous

The first known use of dexterous was in 1609

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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 dextrous (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

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More from Merriam-Webster on dexterous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dexterous

Spanish Central: Translation of dexterous

Nglish: Translation of dexterous for Spanish Speakers

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