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 formsnon·dex·ter·i·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dexterity

Contemporary Examples of dexterity

Historical Examples of dexterity

  • Cellini was remarkable for his readiness and dexterity in handicraft.


    Samuel Smiles

  • Three or four times he lunged with incomparable dash and dexterity.

  • 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

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 for dexterity

C16: from Latin dexteritās aptness, readiness, prosperity; see dexter 1
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

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