deft

adjective
\ ˈdeft How to pronounce deft (audio) \

Definition of deft

: characterized by facility and skill the photographer's deft use of lighting the deft fingers of the trumpeter

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Other Words from deft

deftly adverb
deftness \ ˈdef(t)-​nəs How to pronounce deftness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for deft

dexterous, adroit, deft mean ready and skilled in physical movement. dexterous implies expertness with consequent facility and quickness in manipulation. unrolled the sleeping bag with a dexterous toss adroit implies dexterity but usually also stresses resourcefulness or artfulness or inventiveness. the magician's adroit response to the failure of her prop won applause deft emphasizes lightness, neatness, and sureness of touch or handling. a surgeon's deft manipulation of the scalpel

Examples of deft in a Sentence

The photographer is known for her deft use of lighting. a luthier whose deft craftsmanship is prized by violinists the world over

Recent Examples on the Web

The design world darling is well known for his deft handling of historic properties. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "This Upper East Side Townhouse Is Brimming With Bespoke Furniture and French Antiques," 25 Jan. 2019 Veterans who have hosted more than once include Jimmy Kimmel, who presided over falling ratings the last two years but won praise for his deft handling of the job during culturally and politically tumultuous times. Ellen Gamerman, WSJ, "For the Oscars, It Is Back to the Drawing Board After Kevin Hart’s Departure as Host," 7 Dec. 2018 In Grasby’s deft hands, each slab becomes a unique canvas for abstract forms and statement-making style. Jennifer Fernandez, House Beautiful, "This Company Is Making Gorgeous Terrazzo Furnishings Out Of Recycled Marble," 11 Dec. 2018 The actors are deft at striking the right balance of affectation and affection. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "What to Watch on Netflix in October, According to Our Editors," 1 Oct. 2018 But Hanigosky’s complex balancing of simple materials and positive and negative spaces is so deft and subtle that the work seems natural and right. Gayle Clemans, The Seattle Times, "‘The Veil’ exhibition at Bridge Productions spans ideas of what’s seen and unseen," 7 Aug. 2018 Still, Sean Marks has had a deft hand in restocking the cupboard here, and the process is going to take a long time. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "NBA Power Rankings: Revived Cavaliers Surge Toward the Top Post-Trade Deadline," 12 Feb. 2018 Aimed for use in smartphones and tiny portable speakers, Dirac Bass gets around the physical limitations of those small devices with a deft trick of psychoacoustics. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Dirac Bass will trick you into perceiving deeper bass from your phone’s speakers," 18 Dec. 2018 Photo: Bibliothèque nationale de France Hugo drew with a deceptively solid sense of composition, an eye for crucial details, and a deft, lovely touch with ink that can be mentioned in the same breath with Rembrandt’s. Peter Plagens, WSJ, "‘Stones to Stains: The Drawings of Victor Hugo’ Review: A Writer’s Other, Haunting Talent," 29 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deft.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of deft

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for deft

perhaps continuing Middle English daffte, daft, defte "well-mannered, gentle, dull, foolish" — more at daft

Note: Rather than being derived directly from Middle English, Modern English deft may go back to an unattested Old English *gedefte (with umlaut), with a meaning "fit, ready" developing to "apt, skilfull"; the sense shift is otherwise difficult to account for, though the lack of any certain attestation of deft in the sense "skillful" before the later 16th century makes this scenario hypothetical.

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Dictionary Entries near deft

defrock

defrost

defroster

deft

defterdar

defunct

defunction

Statistics for deft

Last Updated

21 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for deft

The first known use of deft was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for deft

deft

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of deft

: skillful and clever
: able to do something quickly and accurately

deft

adjective
\ ˈdeft How to pronounce deft (audio) \
defter; deftest

Kids Definition of deft

: quick and skillful in action He cut hair with deft fingers.

Other Words from deft

deftly adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on deft

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deft

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deft

Spanish Central: Translation of deft

Nglish: Translation of deft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deft for Arabic Speakers

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