\ 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

Even if the Warriors re-sign Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant, general manager Bob Myers is going to need to make deft moves in the offseason to ensure that the Warriors will make the playoffs in their first year at their new San Francisco arena. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: The real issue the Lakers present to the Warriors this summer," 28 June 2019 But never mind all that given Washington Post reporter Greg Miller’s deft and sharp storytelling in fleshing out secret back channels, cyber-espionage, and corrupt officials on both sides—and that’s just in the opening pages. Rachel King, Fortune, "9 Nonfiction Page-Turners to Bring to the Beach This Summer," 22 June 2019 Davies is a writer who can bring a brilliantly deft touch to the heaviest of subjects. Mark Dawidziak,, "‘Years and Years’ takes a disturbing look into the near future," 21 June 2019 Their vibrant, layered posters, deft experimentations in QuarkXpress and Photoshop, were widely copied and became a template for avant-garde poster art. Anne Quito, Quartzy, "A new museum dedicated to the enduring power of posters opens in New York City," 20 June 2019 Schitt’s Creek is five seasons into a run that rivals — and at times even beats out — The Good Place’s deft ability to be both wickedly funny and deeply morally grounded. Shana Naomi Krochmal,, "Emmys 2019: Give Schitt's Creek the love it deserves," 20 June 2019 Its small greens and their impressive fortification demands deft iron play, a fierce putter, and a steely resolve. Dieter Kurtenbach, The Mercury News, "Kurtenbach: Why is the U.S. Open not played at Pebble Beach more often?," 16 June 2019 More experienced and deft politicians than him torpedoed that gambit and the government reopened. Timothy L. O'brien, The Denver Post, "O’Brien: Donald Trump’s failures — like his abandoned tariffs on Mexico — make him even more dangerous," 10 June 2019 Beyond details such as the communal feel of the 19,500 seats around the court, there are layers of deft architecture that intensify the experience without being distracting. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: They want to save their brother. But they can’t get visas.," 7 June 2019

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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Statistics for deft

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for deft

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

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More Definitions for deft



English Language Learners Definition of deft

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


\ 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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something desired as essential

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