1640s, from L. ambidexter
, lit. "right-handed on both sides," from ambi
- "both" (see ambi-
) + dexter
"right-handed" (see dexterity
). Its opposite, ambilevous
"left-handed on both sides, clumsy" (1640s) is rare. Ambidexter
"one who takes bribes from both sides" is attested from 1530s and is the earliest form of the word in Eng.; its sense of "one who uses both hands equally well" appears by 1590s.