\ ˈdeft \

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 \ 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

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 Despite his lack of experience, Friedel has shown a deft touch., "Seven questions with Revolution coach Brad Friedel," 2 July 2018 By 2010, Kardashian West was practically the definition of the bombshell beauty equation: Tousled, voluminous hair, out-to-there lashes, deft contouring that sharpened her features against a famously sinuous frame. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Happy Birthday, Kim Kardashian West! Tracing Her Jaw-Dropping Beauty Evolution," 21 Oct. 2018 In popular culture as well as the gaming and fantasy world, rogues are often characterized by quick wit or malevolent silence, cunning and charisma, deft hands and fast feet, and skill with sharp objects. Patricia Grisafi, SELF, "When I’m Gaming, I Can Stop Being a People Pleaser and Embrace My Anger," 1 Nov. 2018 Fellow summer signing Cesc Fabregas produced a deft first time pass to feed Andre Schurrle in the box who finished with aplomb, capping off a 25-pass move., "Burnley vs Chelsea Preview: Classic Encounter, Recent Form, Team News & More," 18 Apr. 2018 The Flyers were the better team through the game’s first 10 minutes, until Crosby swooped in from the left-wing boards, accepted a deft pass from Patric Hornqvist, curled around the Flyers’ net, and emerged at the other side to stuff the puck home. Mike Sielski,, "Sidney Crosby once again leaves the Flyers and their fans all wet | Mike Sielski," 16 Apr. 2018 Working from behind Washington's net, Valtteri Filppula sent a deft pass to Raffl, whose shot from the left slot bounced off Holtby and into the net at 13:48. USA TODAY, "Konecny's OT goal lifts Flyers past Capitals 2-1," 21 Jan. 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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Last Updated

10 Jan 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 \
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

Comments on deft

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tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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