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.