Definition of dexterous in English:


(also dextrous)


  • Showing or having skill, especially with the hands.

    ‘a dexterous keyboard player’
    • ‘Some days I am able to multi-task like a particularly dextrous octopus.’
    • ‘Yet he makes up for these frail qualities with his heightened intelligence and dextrous ability to climb tall trees.’
    • ‘He is a shadow of the player who scored that wonderfully dexterous try in the monsoon against Argentina 15 months ago.’
    • ‘The patient should be mentally alert, manually dexterous, and have sterile urine.’
    • ‘Signing and talking use the same communication centre in the brain, but while the vocal muscles don't really develop until 18 months, a baby is dextrous enough to make readable signs from about eight months old.’
    • ‘How they can move off from traffic lights with phone held to the ear, changing gear and turning across junctions all with one hand is astoundingly dextrous.’
    • ‘And, of course, if you've been expecting an email typed by my very own dextrous fingers, it'll be with you shortly.’
    • ‘To build with any efficiency and skill, the colonial craftsperson needed a dexterous hand when wielding both kinds of axes.’
    • ‘The interface is appalling, requiring dextrous use of the keyboard to do relatively simple tasks.’
    • ‘Cris Carter may be the most dexterous player, but he's not the only handy man in the NFL.’
    • ‘The frustration is just like when you get popcorn kernel stuck somewhere in your back teeth and your tongue is not dextrous enough and your fingers are too grimy.’
    • ‘Well done to the senior citizen who trimmed back some choice specimens by dextrous use of his walking stick and to the two young lads who provided a welcome action replay with their hurleys.’
    • ‘Apart from the huge variety of dice games, there were many games of dextrous skill such as knucklebones.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But with a quick, dexterous motion, Rosekiller hurled the knife at Ariana.’
    • ‘Local performer Gerry Grennan provided the pre-interval entertainment, providing some much welcome humour as well as some outstanding dextrous guitar mastery.’
    • ‘You still get the glorious harmonies, of course, and the dextrous guitar playing still stands out, rather than being submerged underneath the raised volume.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Finance director John Lomer blamed hefty 18-year-old school-leavers who did not have ‘sufficiently dexterous and dainty’ fingers.’
    • ‘New research carried out in nine cities around the world shows that the thumbs of people under the age of 25 have taken over as the hand's most dexterous digit, said The Observer.’
    deft, adept, adroit, agile, nimble, neat, nimble-fingered, handy, able, capable, talented, skilful, skilled, proficient, accomplished, expert, experienced, practised, polished, efficient, effortless, slick, professional, masterful, masterly, impressive, finely judged, delicate
    shrewd, ingenious, inventive, clever, intelligent, bright, brilliant, smart, sharp, sharp-witted, razor-sharp, acute, quick, quick-witted, astute, canny, intuitive, discerning, perceptive, perspicacious, insightful, incisive, sagacious, wise, judicious
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Early 17th century (in the sense ‘mentally adroit’): from Latin dexter ‘on the right’ + -ous.