also ambidexterous, "able to use both hands equally," 1640s, with -ous + Medieval Latin ambidexter, literally "right-handed on both sides," from ambi- "both, on both sides" (see ambi-) + dexter "right-handed" (from PIE root *deks- "right; south"). An earlier English use of ambidexter (adj.) meant "double-dealer, one who takes both sides in a conflict" (late 14c.).
Its opposite, ambilevous "left-handed on both sides," hence "clumsy" (1640s) is rare. Ambidexter as a noun is attested from 1530s (in the sense "one who takes bribes from both sides") and is the earliest form of the word in English; its sense of "one who uses both hands equally well" appears by 1590s.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "right, opposite left," hence "south" (from the viewpoint of one facing east).
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit daksinah "on the right hand, southern, skillful;" Avestan dashina- "on the right hand;" Greek dexios "on the right hand," also "fortunate, clever;" Latin dexter "skillful," also "right (hand);" Old Irish dess "on the right hand, southern;" Welsh deheu; Gaulish Dexsiva, name of a goddess of fortune; Gothic taihswa; Lithuanian dešinas; Old Church Slavonic desnu, Russian desnoj.
It forms all or part of: abaft; about; alley (n.1) "open passage between buildings;" ambagious; ambassador; ambi-; ambidexterity; ambidextrous; ambience; ambient; ambiguous; ambit; ambition; ambitious; amble; ambulance; ambulant; ambulate; ambulation; ambulatory; amphi-; amphibian; Amphictyonic; amphisbaena; Amphiscians; amphitheater; amphora; amputate; amputation; ancillary; andante; anfractuous; be-; begin; beleaguer; between; bivouac; but; by; circumambulate; embassy; ember-days; funambulist; ombudsman; perambulate; perambulation; preamble; somnambulate; somnambulism; umlaut.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit abhitah "on both sides," abhi "toward, to;" Avestan aibi; Greek amphi "round about;" Latin ambi- "around, round about;" Gaulish ambi-, Old Irish imb- "round about, about;" Old Church Slavonic oba; Lithuanian abu "both;" Old English ymbe, German um "around."