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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — ambidextrous

Good morning, Netizens...

April 02, 2013

Word of the Day

  • ambidextrous
  • audio pronunciation
  • \am-bih-DEK-strus\


: capable of using both hands with equal ease
: unusually skillful : versatile
: characterized by duplicity : double-dealing

"Jensen, a right-handed athlete, quickly began to teach himself to become ambidextrous." — From an article by Sam Blum in The Daily Orange (Syracuse, New York), February 20, 2013

"For that ambidextrous creature known as the author-illustrator—or at least for the best among them—story and art, like mind and body, are almost impossible to pull apart." — from a book review by Meg Wolitzer in the New York Times, November 10, 2011


Latin "dexter" originally meant "related to or situated on the right side," but since most people do things better with the right hand, "dexter" developed the sense of "skillful" (as demonstrated by our word "dexterous"). In 1646, English physician and author Sir Thomas Browne combined "dexter" with the Latin prefix "ambi-" (meaning "both") in the first documented use of "ambidextrous": "Some are . . . ambidextrous or right-handed on both sides." The word can now describe the kind of physical or mental agility demonstrated by one with multiple diverse talents.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.