Definition of dexterous in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdekst(ə)rəs/
(also dextrous)


Showing or having skill, especially with the hands: dexterous accordion playing power users are dexterous at using software, rather than creating it
More example sentences
  • The skill of his dextrous fingers dancing over the frets combines with his rich, soulful voice to create a ‘tingle factor’ that leaves the listeners feeling they have witnessed something special.
  • They shoved us off scrums, stole our ball at the tackle, carried the ball powerfully into our defence, and showed dextrous handling skills in the open spaces.
  • Apart from the huge variety of dice games, there were many games of dextrous skill such as knucklebones.
deft, adept, adroit, agile, nimble, neat, handy, able, capable, skillful, skilled, proficient, expert, practiced, polished;
efficient, effortless, slick, professional, masterly
informal nifty, mean, ace
shrewd, ingenious, inventive, clever, intelligent, brilliant, smart, sharp, acute, astute, canny, intuitive, discerning, perceptive, insightful, incisive, judicious;
cunning, artful, crafty, wily
informal on the ball, quick off the mark, quick on the uptake, brainy, savvy



Pronunciation: /ˈdekst(ə)rəslē/
Example sentences
  • She quickly and dexterously gathered it all up in her free hand, and smiled up at Mercer.
  • The test of his life will be how dextrously and how ethically he is able both to make and withhold the kinds of concession that might bring him the presidency.
  • It's a superb album, dextrously mixing disparate styles into a sound that's entirely its own.


Pronunciation: /ˈdekst(ə)rəsnəs/
Example sentences
  • With great dexterousness, he traded his way through the political shoals and created a force.
  • The speed and dexterousness with which their fingers work is absolutely fascinating.
  • You're forever on the edge of your seat, marvelling at the dextrousness of the amazing moves, but constantly fearing that he's about to fall off.


Early 17th century (in the sense 'mentally adroit, clever'): from Latin dexter 'on the right' + -ous.

  • The first meaning of dexterous was ‘clever, mentally agile’. A little later it began to refer to physical coordination, and ‘having skill with the hands’ remains the primary modern sense. The word goes back to Latin dexter ‘on the right’, which is also the root of dexterity (early 16th century): people have traditionally associated right-handedness with manual skill. See also ambidextrous, sinister

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dex·ter·ous

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