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[dek-ster-i-tee] /dɛkˈstɛr ɪ ti/
skill or adroitness in using the hands or body; agility.
mental adroitness or skill; cleverness.
Origin of dexterity
1520-30; < Latin dexteritās readiness, equivalent to dexter- (stem of dexter) skillful + -itās -ity
Related forms
nondexterity, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dexterity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Cellini was remarkable for his readiness and dexterity in handicraft.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • Three or four times he lunged with incomparable dash and dexterity.

    The Prisoner of Zenda Anthony Hope
  • It was a wonderful exhibition of strength, patience, and dexterity.

    The Last Voyage Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
  • He marveled at the dexterity with which she lifted him against her slim shoulder.


    Jane Abbott
  • To a dexterity so fatal he added a judgment that had not failed when confronted with deceit.

    Whispering Smith Frank H. Spearman
  • Another professor had the dexterity to manage in a different way.

    The Teacher Jacob Abbott
  • Their skill and dexterity in the use of the axe in hunting is extraordinary.

  • This piece of dexterity is the only one with which they are acquainted.

    Perils and Captivity Charlotte-Adlade [ne Picard] Dard
British Dictionary definitions for dexterity


physical, esp manual, skill or nimbleness
mental skill or adroitness: cleverness
(rare) the characteristic of being right-handed
Word Origin
C16: from Latin dexteritās aptness, readiness, prosperity; see dexter1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dexterity

1520s, from Middle French dexterité (16c.), from Latin dexteritatem (nominative dexteritas) "readiness, skillfulness, prosperity," from dexter "skillful," also "right (hand)" (source of Old French destre, Spanish diestro, etc.), from PIE root *deks- "on the right hand," hence "south" to one facing east (cf. Sanskrit daksinah "on the right hand, southern, skillful;" Avestan dashina- "on the right hand;" Greek dexios "on the right hand," also "fortunate, clever;" Old Irish dess "on the right hand, southern;" Welsh deheu; Gaulish Dexsiva, name of a goddess of fortune; Gothic taihswa; Lithuanian desinas; Old Church Slavonic desnu, Russian desnoj). The Latin form is with the comparative suffix -ter, thus meaning etymologically "the better direction." Middle English dester meant "right hand," and in heraldry dexter means "on the right side."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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