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 Jacqueline was teased as a cold Miranda Priestly pastiche, but with good writing and the dexterous work of Melora Hardin, she was revealed to be a firm but kind mentoring force in the lives of the core trio. Bolu Babalola, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 May 2021 Dolphins are known for their intelligence, promiscuity and absurdly dexterous penises. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Nov. 2020 Why should the brain somehow give up, even temporarily, its conception of a dexterous hand for that of a blunt instrument? Gary Stix, Scientific American, 19 May 2021 The Sun’s Tirade, are critically acclaimed for Rashad’s dexterous lyricism and poignant tussles with parenthood, addiction, and depression. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 7 May 2021 Digitally dexterous workers accomplish more by distributing tasks among machines, software, apps, cloud communities, open applications and personal virtual assistants. Heide Abelli, Forbes, 6 May 2021 Talk about low stakes for one of the most dexterous filmmakers in Hollywood. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 26 Apr. 2021 Our dexterous thumb and fingers, with their unique proportions and opposability, place the world at our pulpy fingertips—along with millions of microbes collected by our noteworthy nails and fleshy apical pads. Sabrina Sholts, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Mar. 2021 Sanders’s dexterous hosting means Cuddle Club ranges from sweet to profound to dry and witty or even delightfully ridiculous. Alejandra Gularte, Vulture, 1 Apr. 2021

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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Last Updated

6 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dexterous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dexterous. Accessed 15 Jun. 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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