- skillful or adroit in the use of the hands or body.
- having mental adroitness or skill; clever.
- done with skill or adroitness.
Origin of dexterous
1595–1605; < Latin dexter right-hand, skillful + -ous
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1, 2. Dexterous, adroit, deft, skillful, handy all imply facility and ease in performance. Dexterous and adroit both referred originally to right-handedness. Dexterous is still most often used to refer to manual or physical ability but can also refer to mental or social agility: a dexterous wood carver; dexterous management of a potentially embarrassing situation. Adroit implies cleverness or mental acuity, occasionally complex physical skill: an adroit politician; an adroit juggler. Deft suggests a light and assured touch, either physical or mental: deft manipulation of the sensitive controls, of public opinion. Skillful is the most general of these synonyms and can be substituted in most contexts for any of the foregoing, sacrificing only the overtones or connotations of each: a skillful performer. Handy applies mainly to physical skill, often achieved without formal training: handy with tools.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for dexterous
It is messy enough to be fork-food for all but the most dexterous eater.The Most American Pit Stop in the U.S.A.
Jane & Michael Stern
July 21, 2014
The man and his music were indissoluble—nimble, dexterous, heartfelt, and always down to earth.Doc Watson, a Legendary Picker, Was Traditional Music’s Best Ambassador
May 30, 2012
In all her camera-ready conversations, it is her dexterous intelligence that keeps it all carefully balanced.Joy Behar's New Point of View
May 12, 2010
A dexterous dab or two of that would have put an end to all his glory.Pee-wee Harris
Percy Keese Fitzhugh
Trenton could not but admire the knowledge of these two men and their dexterous use of it.One Day's Courtship
Many other dexterous and agreeable architectural artists we 33.Modern Painters Volume I (of V)
A dexterous carver, would help half a dozen people in less time than is often wasted in making civil faces to a single guest.
To depend on his horse's speed, and his own dexterous hand to guide him, was all his hope.The O'Donoghue
Charles James Lever
- possessing or done with dexterity
- a rare word for right-handed
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 dexterous
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper