1520s, from M.Fr. dexterite, from L. dexteritatem (nom. dexteritas), from dexter "skillful," also "right (hand)," from PIE base *dek-, cf. Gk. dexios "on the right hand," also "fortunate, clever;" Goth. taihswa; Skt. daksinah "on the right hand, southern, skillful;" Lith. desinas; O.Ir. dess "on the right hand, southern." Klein says the PIE base meant "to take, receive," also "acceptable, becoming, good." The Gk. and L. forms are with the comp. suffix -ter, thus meaning etymologically "the better direction." M.E. dester meant "right hand," and in heraldry dexter means "on the right side."