Dexterously – What does that mean?

People who are dexterous are good with their hands. For example, being dexterous is essential for magicians and knitters if they want to be successful. Often, the adjective “dexterous” refers to manual agility and skill but it can also refer to any clever or skillful physical movement or activity.

As an adjective, “Dexterous” means adroit or skillful in using body or hands; clever; commanding mental skill or adroitness; done or executed with adroitness or skill; right-handed. The words “Dexterous” and “Dexterously” find their origins in Latin where “Dexter” means right-hand or skillful. More spelling forms are considered correct: dexterous-dextrous (adjective), dexterously-dextrously (adverb), and dexterousness-dextrousness (noun).

Related forms are dexterousness (noun), dexterous (adjective), dexterously (adverb), non-dexterous (adjective), and non-dexterously (adverb). Synonyms of “Dexterous” are deft, handy, nimble, apt, expert, able, and quick. When people are dextrous or dexterous, they have well-rounded physical skills. They can be dextrous or dexterous football players or dextrous guitarists. You may as well use dextrous or dexterous to describe persons who are clever or quick thinkers.

Dexterous, deft, adroit, handy, and skillful all imply ease and facility in execution or performance. Originally, both adroit (French for to the right) and Dexterous were referring to right-handedness but today, that meaning has changed. Dexterous is generally used to qualify physical or manual ability but the word may as well be used to describe social or mental agility.

Examples are “dexterous management of risky situation” or “a dexterous guitar builder” Adroit, so derived from French, implies mental acuity or cleverness and sometimes, exceptional physical skill as well, like in “an adroit politician” or “an adroit juggler”. The adverb “Handy” applies generally to physical ability and skill, often performed without any sort of formal training like in “He is handy with many tools”. The adjective “Deft” is suggesting an assured and light touch, either mental or physical. Examples are “deft public opinion manipulation. Of all the synonyms of “Dexterous”, skillful is probably used most general. In most contexts, we can substitute “Skillful” for each of the foregoing adjectives.