\ 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

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 The 21-year-old scored four goals and contributed two assists, but brought so much more to the team - passing the ball around with effortless ease, dictating the tempo of the game and demonstrating a deft touch., "Ben Godfrey: 5 Things to Know About Norwich's Highly Rated Youngster," 6 June 2019 Fognini in rare form would have eliminated Zverev again with his compact strokes, tight-to-the-baseline tactics and deft touch. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "At the French Open, Novak Djokovic Is Aiming to Rewind to 2016," 3 June 2019 Voters in 2014 elected Mr. Widodo, a former furniture salesman who has won high approval ratings for cultivating a clean image and demonstrating a deft touch with constituents. Ben Otto, WSJ, "With Fatwas and Blasphemy Claims, Cleric Emerges as a Force in Indonesia," 23 Jan. 2019 Wilson watches the robotic arm trace deft patterns on a full-scale test platform, and then grins as Loomis hands him a phone loaded with an app to move the arm manually. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Disrupting the Pentagon: Can the Air Force Learn To Love Startup Culture?," 12 Apr. 2019 Despite that wow moment, though, the table and other eye-catching pieces don't feel out of place, thanks to Hilliard's deft layering ability. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "This Colorful California Home Will Make You Want a Neon Coffee Table," 22 Mar. 2019 Last year, Sharp Objects won over many a critic—largely thanks to Amy Adams's deft performance opposite the masterful Patricia Clarkson, her abusive onscreen mother. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Is Sharp Objects, the HBO Series Starring Amy Adams, Getting a Season 2? Well, Maybe.," 12 Mar. 2019 The Philadelphia Citizen’s profile on Stuart Leon is also a deft exploration of tensions between the city and bike riders. Aubrey Nagle,, "Shooting at Trenton arts fest, Jersey Shore feels the heat of climate change | Morning Newsletter," 18 June 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

13 Jun 2019

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

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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

Comments on deft

What made you want to look up deft? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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