- 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 dexterously
They tell me the cautery, if dexterously applied, is better; but I have not tried it.The Fortunes Of Glencore
Charles James Lever
He prepared his effects as studiously and almost as dexterously as Dumas himself.Views and Reviews
William Ernest Henley
He dexterously avoided coming into contact with them in Italy.The Young Duke
He did the work speedily and dexterously, and then departed as silently as he had come.The River of Darkness
William Murray Graydon
The candlelight glinted on the knife blade as he twisted it about dexterously.One Man's Initiation--1917
John Dos Passos
- 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 dexterously
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper