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 WebYeah, 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, BostonGlobe.com, 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.