\ 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

Other Words from deft

deftly adverb
deftness \ ˈdef(t)-​nəs How to pronounce deft (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 With sincere lyrics circling love, memories, motherhood and hope, Moore taps into relatable emotions with a deft poetic touch. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 12 May 2022 With a deft composition that is both strong and THC-free, Saha Self-Care creates an art form out of this balancing act. The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 May 2022 In especially deft hands, a third option would meld the two. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Apr. 2022 The ensemble of observers is presented both in various group formations and, through deft shifts in point of view and diction, as distinctive voices. The New Yorker, 2 May 2022 People on social media praised Mr. Kingsley for his deft catch. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, 27 Apr. 2022 The life of an undertaker might seem radically different from that of a writer, but there are some meaningful similarities: Both jobs require a sensitivity to emotional pain, a sense of duty to attend to grief, and a deft way with words. Thomas Lynch, The Atlantic, 24 Apr. 2022 At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, lawmakers praised the Ukrainians’ deft use of the Javelins in discussions with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 In addition to James’ potent vocals, the album features deft playing and production that today still sound immediate and contemporary in many respects. Matt Wake |, al, 15 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for deft


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on deft

Nglish: Translation of deft for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deft for Arabic Speakers


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