\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Watch How 60 Minutes Deceptively Edited Ron DeSantis’s Full Answer on Publix Vaccinations' DeSantis has navigated the Trump years with a deft political touch. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Ron DeSantis Is What the Post-Trump GOP Should Look Like," 9 Apr. 2021 This match was the perfect combination of deft storytelling and great wrestling—both technical and brawling. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, "WWE NXT TakeOver Stand And Deliver Results: Winners, News And Notes From Night 1," 8 Apr. 2021 But his party's hard turn to the right — including, for many, a deep hatred of COVID-19 restrictions — has required deft recalculation. Star Tribune, "Ohio GOP lieutenant governor faces political test over tweet," 8 Apr. 2021 But these data mountains also require deft management, and only one in two asset managers surveyed taking the time to normalize and standardize data ingestion. Michael Spellacy, Forbes, "Go Big Or Go Home: Asset & Wealth Managers Need To Seize The Day On AI," 11 Mar. 2021 Trask more relied on pinpoint accuracy, deft touch and quick decision-making to become a Heisman finalist. Edgar Thompson,, "Dan Mullen confident new-look Gators’ attack can produce offensive fireworks," 8 Mar. 2021 Fischer has a deft touch with dogs, says Pescatore. Greg Hanlon,, "Lady Gaga’s Dog Walker Is Stable, Was Texting Friend from Hospital and 'Breathing on His Own'," 26 Feb. 2021 Finally, these are two of the best retailers in the business and each has maneuvered through the pandemic with deft moves and aplomb that other retailing operations could have much to learn from. Warren Shoulberg, Forbes, "How Long Will Home Run Last For Lowe’s And Home Depot?," 26 Feb. 2021 No, Mather ensured his legacy not with a deft hiring of a general manager or an industry-altering innovation, but rather by stepping in front of a Zoom camera for 45 minutes of truth-telling in a session with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Mariners president Kevin Mather's dyspeptic comments capture what's wrong with Major League Baseball," 22 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about deft

Time Traveler for deft

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for deft

Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deft.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on deft

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!