dexterous, adroit, deft, handy mean having or showing readiness and skill in the use of one's hands, limbs, or body and may also imply physical or mental readiness or skill.
Dexterous implies expertness with consequent facility and agility in manipulation or movement

seized one corner of the blanket, and with a dexterous twist and throw unrolled it—C. G. D. Roberts


one of the most dexterous novelists now writing, with an enviable command of styles— Bellow

Adroit is only occasionally used with reference to physical skill. It more commonly implies resourcefulness or artfulness and ability to cope effectively or cleverly with situations; thus, an adroit fencer or an adroit magician is, by implication, not only dexterous in his manipulations but able to cope quickly and without bungling with every situation that arises

a daring but consummately adroit transference of conventions— Lowes

Deft stresses lightness, neatness, and sureness of touch or handling

a deft watch repairer


deft in every cunning, save the dealings of the sword— Morris


waltzed off with the prettiest girl, sliding, swinging, deftSinclair Lewis

Handy usually implies lack of formal or professional training but a degree of skill in doing small jobs (as of carpentry, plumbing, or repairing)

some men are what is known as "handy around the house." They can, if need be, fix a dripping faucet, plane off a door that sticks, put up a hook in the back hall— Rorick

It is sometimes applied to a jack-of-all-trades.
Analogous words: nimble, *agile: skilled, skillful, expert, masterly, adept, *proficient: *easy, effortless, smooth, facile
Antonyms: clumsy
Contrasted words: *awkward, maladroit, inept, gauche

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dexterous — Dex ter*ous, a. [L. dexter. See {Dexter}.] [Written also {dextrous}.] 1. Ready and expert in the use of the body and limbs; skillful and active with the hands; handy; ready; as, a dexterous hand; a dexterous workman. [1913 Webster] 2. Skillful in …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dexterous — [deks′tər əs, deks′trəs] adj. [ DEXTER + OUS] 1. having or showing skill in the use of the hands or body 2. having or showing mental skill dexterously adv. dexterousness n. SYN. DEXTEROUS implies an expertness, natural or acquired, demonstrated… …   English World dictionary

  • dexterous — index artful, competent, deft, diplomatic, efficient, expert, facile, familiar (informed) …   Law dictionary

  • dexterous — c.1600, convenient, suitable, formed in English from L. dexter (see DEXTERITY (Cf. dexterity)) + OUS (Cf. ous). Meaning skillful, clever is from 1620s …   Etymology dictionary

  • dexterous — UK / US or dextrous UK [ˈdekst(ə)rəs] / US adjective able to use your hands skilfully …   English dictionary

  • dexterous — is preferable to dextrous. Both are pronounced dek strǝs …   Modern English usage

  • dexterous — [adj] ingenious, proficient able, active, acute, adept, adroit, agile, apt, artful, canny, clever, crack*, crackerjack*, deft, effortless, expert, facile, handy, having the know how*, masterly, neat, nimble, nimblefingered, prompt, quick, savvy,… …   New thesaurus

  • dexterous — (also dextrous) ► ADJECTIVE ▪ showing dexterity; adroit. DERIVATIVES dexterously adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • dexterous — also dextrous adjective Etymology: Latin dextr , dexter on the right side, skillful Date: 1609 1. mentally adroit and skillful ; clever < her dexterous handling of the crisis > 2. done with dexterity ; a …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • dexterous — dexterously, adv. dexterousness, n. /dek streuhs, steuhr euhs/, adj. 1. skillful or adroit in the use of the hands or body. 2. having mental adroitness or skill; clever. 3. done with skill or adroitness. 4. right handed. Also, dextrous. [1595… …   Universalium

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