View synonyms for dexterous


[ dek-struhs, -ster-uhs ]


  1. skillful or adroit in the use of the hands or body.

    Synonyms: quick, able, apt, expert, handy, nimble, deft

    Antonyms: clumsy

  2. having mental adroitness or skill; clever.

    Synonyms: quick, able, apt, expert

    Antonyms: inept

  3. done with skill or adroitness.

    Antonyms: awkward


/ ˈdɛkstrəs /


  1. possessing or done with dexterity
  2. a rare word for right-handed

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Derived Forms

  • ˈdexterously, adverb
  • ˈdexterousness, noun

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Other Words From

  • dexter·ous·ly adverb
  • dexter·ous·ness noun
  • non·dexter·ous adjective
  • non·dexter·ous·ly adverb
  • non·dexter·ous·ness noun
  • un·dexter·ous adjective
  • un·dexter·ous·ly adverb
  • un·dexter·ous·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of dexterous1

First recorded in 1595–1605; from Latin dexter “right-hand,” also “favorable, right, skillful” + -ous

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Within weeks, Zola’s dexterous way with words online had inspired a legion of followers—and resulted in offers for adaptations off of social media—chief among them, a feature film deal with James Franco, which Zola accepted.

From Time

Humans have these qualities of being very dexterous and being able to care directly to the patient and communicate and have compassion with them.

Waterproof and breathable, they’re as dexterous as many non-weather protective leather gloves, but they don’t get sweat saturated or soaked with precipitation.

They’re thin and dexterous enough that you can buckle your ski boots or adjust straps on your backcountry ski pack, but packed with enough synthetic insulation that your hands won’t freeze while riding the lift.

Cold temperature activities that require more dexterity would benefit from gloves, while less dexterous activities might consider mittens.

It is messy enough to be fork-food for all but the most dexterous eater.

I am pretty dexterous with my left and can make it look I can do things productively for script and stuff.

The man and his music were indissoluble—nimble, dexterous, heartfelt, and always down to earth.

In all her camera-ready conversations, it is her dexterous intelligence that keeps it all carefully balanced.

But he was so surprisingly dexterous with his lips, and feet too, when he was in his cabin that I suppose I put them down to that.

Allow me, Miss Duncombe, to give this in your name to this young lady, as thanks for her dexterous help.

Some are dexterous enough to catch the coin even before it touches the bottom.

The mountebanks and merry-andrews appeared more dexterous and more humorous.

The sapajous are very sagacious and dexterous: they go in companies, and mutually warn and assist each other.