sleight

noun
\ ˈslīt How to pronounce sleight (audio) \

Definition of sleight

1 : deceitful craftiness also : stratagem

Keep scrolling for more

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 This underground sleight-of-literary-hand, amazingly, was accomplished in just 18 days, and most of the accomplices were severely punished for their stunt. Sue Gilmore, The Mercury News, "Fake news makes fools of Nazis in E.R. Ramzipoor’s ‘The Ventriloquists’," 13 Aug. 2019 Harris’s LIFT Act features a sleight of sorts in language—its full name is the LIFT the Middle Class Act, although many of its benefits would go to those struggling to get into the middle class. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "Democrats’ Cautious Return to the War on Poverty," 30 June 2019

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for sleight

Last Updated

6 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sleight.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sleight. Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sleight

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

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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