[ dek-struhs, -ster-uhs ]
See synonyms for dexterous on
  1. skillful or adroit in the use of the hands or body.

  2. having mental adroitness or skill; clever.

  1. done with skill or adroitness.

Origin of dexterous

1595–1605; <Latin dexter right-hand, skillful + -ous

synonym study For dexterous

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.

Other words for dexterous

Opposites for dexterous

Other words from dexterous

  • 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use dexterous in a sentence

  • Lady Celia caught him dexterously by the waist in her mouth, and, swimming to the outer rock, sat up and softly bit him in halves.

British Dictionary definitions for dexterous



/ (ˈdɛkstrəs) /

  1. possessing or done with dexterity

  2. a rare word for right-handed

Derived forms of dexterous

  • dexterously or dextrously, adverb
  • dexterousness or dextrousness, noun

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