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Affixes: the building blocks of English
Affixes: the building blocks of English

dextr(o)- Also D- and d-.

On or to the right.

[Latin dexter, dextr-, right.]

Dextral refers to the right side or the right hand (the opposite of sinistral, see sinistro-); the adjective dexterous (or dextrous) strictly also means ‘on the right’, but usually means that a person is skilful (left-handed people were once thought clumsy); someone ambidextrous (Latin ambi-, on both sides) is able to use the right and left hands equally well; dextrocardia is a congenital condition in which the position of the heart is a mirror image of normal, with the apex of the ventricles pointing to the right.

Many chemical compounds rotate polarized light to the right (clockwise facing the oncoming radiation) and are then said to be dextrorotatory. In chemical names, the dextrorotatory form is sometimes indicated by d-, for example d-ribose or d-gluconic acid. The optical activity of a compound reflects the arrangement of the atoms in its molecules; the prefix D- has been used to refer to one whose shape is consistent with that of D-glyceraldehyde; however, d- forms are not necessarily also D- forms and both prefixes have largely been replaced by other naming conventions. A few chemical names include a reference to optical activity of this kind, such as dextrose, the dextrorotatory form of glucose. The opposite to dextro- in this sense is laevo-.

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