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Borrowed from Medieval Latin ambidexter, from Latin ambi- + dexter.



ambidexter (plural ambidexters)

  1. Someone who is ambidextrous.
  2. (archaic) A lawyer who takes fees from both plaintiff and defendant.
    • 1891, Herman Melville, Billy Budd
      But the thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: though the man's even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason further than to employ it as an ambidexter implement for effecting the irrational.
  3. (by extension) Someone who is two-faced; a double-dealer.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970:
      , New York Review of Books, 2001, p.65:
      One takes upon him temperence, holiness […], whenas indeed he, and he, and he, and the rest are hypocrites, ambidexters, outsides, so many turning pictures, a lion on one side, a lamb on the other.


ambidexter (not comparable)

  1. Ambidextrous.
    • 1751, Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Chapter 100,[1]
      He then changed his battery, and being ambidexter, raised such a clatter upon the turnkey’s blind side, that this hero, believing him left-handed, converted his attention that way, and opposed the unenlightened side of his face to the right hand of Pipes []

See also[edit]


  • [Francis] Grose [et al.] (1811), “Ambidexter”, in Lexicon Balatronicum. A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence. [], London: Printed for C. Chappell, [], OCLC 23927885.



Ultimately from Latin ambidexter. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term.


  • IPA(key): /ˌɑm.biˈdɛk.stər/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: am‧bi‧dex‧ter


ambidexter (used only predicatively, comparative meer ambidexter, superlative meest ambidexter)

  1. ambidexter