1640s, "right as opposed to left," from Medieval Latin dexteralis "on the right," from Latin dexter "right, opposite of left," from PIE root *deks-. From 1871 as "right-handed." From 1847 in reference to univalve shells, "having the aperture on the right side when held upright in front of the observer with the apex upward." Related: Dextrally; dextrality.
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