\ 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 The whole situation exposes the ridiculous lengths that people will go to undermine reality, and the sleight-of-hand that transgender activists use to mask their radical agenda. Christiana Holcomb, National Review, 14 July 2021 That example doesn’t dispute the governor’s statement that he was not involved in the Jacksonville decision, which was widely regarded as the latest sleight by his administration against the LGBTQ community in Florida. Ava Loomar,, 18 June 2021 Good communication doesn’t happen magically through sleight of word and mouth. Sabina Nawaz, Forbes, 2 June 2021 Among sleight-of-hand aficionados, the book was a once-in-a-lifetime sensation: Even at $300, the first printing of 1,000 sold out in one week. Kevin Pang, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2021 And while Pat Riley was able to add Butler in the void of salary-cap space through a series of trades, such sleight isn’t always feasible. Ira Winderman,, 29 May 2021 His accomplice was Cedric Waters Hill, just 25, an Australian mechanic who became a pilot and just happened to be a skillful amateur sleight-of-hand artist. Edward Kosner, WSJ, 26 May 2021 And in some kind of magical sleight-of-hand that converts dark pessimism into cutting wit, Shepard’s stories always manage to be funny. Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, 26 May 2021 Zeller’s screenplay has the cunning of a sleight-of-hand trick, disorienting us along with its title character—a technique that only deepens the impact of its emotional wallops. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2021

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.

See More

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

Dictionary Entries Near sleight



sleight of hand

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for sleight

Last Updated

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sleight.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

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

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

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

 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!