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Borrowed from Latin dexter, from Proto-Indo-European *de?s(i)-tero-, from *de?s- ("right") (Pokorny, Watkins, 1969; et al.). Compare Epic Greek (dexiterós, "right hand"), (dexiós, "right"), Old Church Slavonic (desn?, "right").


  • (UK) IPA(key): /'d?kst?/
  • (file)


dexter (not comparable)

  1. Right; on the right-hand side.
    • 1887, George William Foote; J. M. Wheeler, Crimes of Christianity, London: Progressive Publishing:
      Displaying his dexter palm, he exclaimed that there was a hand that never took a bribe; whereupon a smart auditor cried "How about the one behind your back?"
    • 1911, Saki, 'The Match-Maker', The Chronicles of Clovis:
      Clovis wiped the trace of Turkish coffee and the beginnings of a smile from his lips, and slowly lowered his dexter eyelid.



dexter (plural dexters)

  1. (heraldry) The right side of a shield from the wearer's standpoint, and the left side to the viewer.
  2. The right hand.


See also


Alternative forms

  • dester (Vulgar or Late Latin, Pompeian inscriptions)


From Proto-Italic *deksteros, from Proto-Indo-European *de?s(i)-tero-, from *de?s- ("right"). Cognate with Ancient Greek (dexiós), Old High German zesawa ("right hand, right hand side"), Sanskrit (dák?i?a).



dexter (feminine dextra or dextera, neuter dextrum or dexterum); first/second-declension adjective (nominative masculine singular in -er; two different stems)

  1. right (relative direction), right hand
    Antonyms: laevus, scaevus, sinister
  2. skillful
  3. fortunate, favorable
  4. proper, fitting


First/second-declension adjective (nominative masculine singular in -er; two different stems).

Derived terms

Related terms



  • dexter in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • dexter in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • dexter in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire Illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Carl Meissner; Henry William Auden (1894) Latin Phrase-Book[1], London: Macmillan and Co.
    • (ambiguous) to give one's hand to some one: manum (dextram) alicui porrigere
    • (ambiguous) to give one's right hand to some one: dextram alicui porrigere, dare
    • (ambiguous) to shake hands with a person: dextram iungere cum aliquo, dextras inter se iungere

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