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 WebThe 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, orlandosentinel.com, 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, sun-sentinel.com, 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.