\ ˈslīt How to pronounce sleight (audio) \

Definition of sleight

1 : deceitful craftiness also : stratagem

Frequently Asked Questions About sleight

Is it slight or sleight of hand?

Although slight is a homophone of sleight, and feels like it makes sense in this idiom, sleight of hand is the correct form when referring to a cleverly executed trick. Sleight means "deceitful craftiness" or "stratagem," and slight means "having a slim or delicate build" (we often hear of a slim person as being "slight of build").

What is the difference between sleight and slight?

In modern use slight may be found as a noun ("a humiliating discourtesy"), a verb ("to treat as slight or unimportant"), and an adjective ("small of its kind or in amount"). Sleight is mainly found as a noun, and can refer either to a deceitful kind of craftiness, or to skill and dexterity.

"Is the correct phrase sleight chance or slight chance?"

"If you are referring to such things as your chances of winning the lottery the word you need is slight. This adjectival sense of slight is "small of its kind or in amount."

Examples of sleight in a Sentence

must have employed some sophisticated sleight to con that wary couple out of their money a brilliant new theory that pays tribute to his remarkable sleight of mind
Recent Examples on the Web Yeah, there was a lot of practical sleight-of-hand magic that took place. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, 8 Sep. 2022 Yet, by sleight of pen, these philosophy-laden pages remain light and graceful. Melissa Holbrook Pierson, Washington Post, 18 Aug. 2022 After the vote but before the wedding, Thompson’s press secretary denounced the legislation as a political sleight-of-hand designed to distract voters. Jonathan Edwards, Washington Post, 26 July 2022 Critics, for some reason, now like to mock the visual sleight-of-hand that goes into a thriller like this one, as if the CGI involved were all too easy to see through. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 10 Aug. 2022 Davis and Giganti sat behind a table opposite Wolfe and launched a non-stop barrage of sleight-of-hand facts, innuendos, and interruptions. Dan Kaufman, The New Yorker, 25 July 2022 Cirque Dreams Holidaze is a Broadway-style production featuring aerial circus acts, sleight-of-hand jugglers, acrobatics and other contemporary circus arts, perfect for the entire family. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 19 July 2022 Whether that digital sleight-of-hand ranks as construction, damage or perhaps both is up to you. Los Angeles Times, 18 June 2022 Bossy spun his gold more off the rush, skating into shots, picking apart goalies victimized by his sleight-of-stick magic. Kevin Paul Dupont,, 16 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sleight.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of sleight

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sleight

Middle English, from Old Norse slœgth, from slœgr sly — more at sly

Learn More About sleight

Time Traveler for sleight

Time Traveler

The first known use of sleight was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near sleight



sleight of hand

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sleight

Last Updated

20 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sleight.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on sleight

Nglish: Translation of sleight for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sleight for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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