Definition of dexterous
- a dexterous surgeon
They praised her dexterous handling of the crisis.
The movie is a dexterous retelling of a classic love story.
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.
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.
First Known Use: 1609See Words from the same year
: having or showing great skill or cleverness : showing dexterity
What made you want to look up dexterous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!
Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ
Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.TAKE THE QUIZ