slight

1 of 3

adjective

1
a
: having a slim or delicate build : not stout or massive in body
b
: lacking in strength or substance : flimsy, frail
c
: deficient in weight, solidity, or importance : trivial
a slight movie
2
: small of its kind or in amount
a slight chance
a slight odor of gas
slightly adverb
slightness noun

slight

2 of 3

verb

slighted; slighting; slights

transitive verb

1
: to treat as slight or unimportant : make light of
2
: to treat with disdain or indifference
slight a guest
3
: to perform or attend to carelessly and inadequately
don't slight your work

slight

3 of 3

noun

1
: an act or an instance of slighting
2
: an instance of being slighted : a humiliating discourtesy

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it slight or sleight of hand?

Slight is a homophone of sleight, and feels like it makes sense in this idiom, but 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"; a slim person is sometimes described as being "slight of build."

What is the difference between sleight and slight?

Slight is the far more common word. In modern use it can be a verb meaning "to offend or insult someone" (as in "slighted by a rude colleague"), or a noun closely related to that verb ("the colleague's remark could only be seen as a slight"), or it can be an adjective describing people and things that are slim, frail, small, or trivial ("a slight figure," "a slight chance," "a slight movie"). Sleight is a noun that can refer either to a deceitful kind of craftiness, or to skill and dexterity. It is typically found in the phrase "sleight of hand," or variations on that phrase (as in "sleight of pen").

Is the correct phrase sleight chance or slight chance?

Slight chance: slight in this case means "small." If rain is possible but not very likely on a given day, there's a slight chance of rain. If you buy only one of 500 raffle tickets sold, you have a slight chance of winning.

Choose the Right Synonym for slight

Adjective

thin, slender, slim, slight, tenuous mean not thick, broad, abundant, or dense.

thin implies comparatively little extension between surfaces or in diameter, or it may imply lack of substance, richness, or abundance.

thin wire
a thin soup

slender implies leanness or spareness often with grace and good proportion.

the slender legs of a Sheraton chair

slim applies to slenderness that suggests fragility or scantiness.

a slim volume of poetry
a slim chance

slight implies smallness as well as thinness.

a slight build

tenuous implies extreme thinness, sheerness, or lack of substance and firmness.

a tenuous thread

Verb

neglect, disregard, ignore, overlook, slight, forget mean to pass over without giving due attention.

neglect implies giving insufficient attention to something that merits one's attention.

habitually neglected his studies

disregard suggests voluntary inattention.

disregarded the wishes of his family

ignore implies a failure to regard something obvious.

ignored the snide remark

overlook suggests disregarding or ignoring through haste or lack of care.

in my rush I overlooked a key example

slight implies contemptuous or disdainful disregarding or omitting.

slighted several major authors in her survey

forget may suggest either a willful ignoring or a failure to impress something on one's mind.

forget what others say

Examples of slight in a Sentence

Adjective There is a slight chance of rain. Her head is tilted at a slight angle in the picture. If you have even the slightest doubt, then don't do it. Verb I'm sure he didn't mean to slight you. He was slighted by his colleagues. Noun refused to respond to their petty slights
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Currently, the forecast calls for a slight chance of showers before 8 a.m. before the day becomes partly sunny, which should result in viewable conditions. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 8 Apr. 2024 In fact, Brody had been in California at the time, and this misinformation was based on nothing more than the slightest resemblance between Brody and the individual at the event. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 8 Apr. 2024 Each of his slightest gestures — a tug of the sunglasses here, a pensive gaze into the crowd there — elicited eruptions of screams. Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press, 7 Apr. 2024 And this country's foster care system that is ready to buckle at the slightest wind. Adiba Nelson, Parents, 3 Apr. 2024 Broad Spectrum: This is minimally processed, while still containing some slight raw plant materials. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Apr. 2024 Areas near Waukesha and the Timmerman Airport have the highest chances of receiving slight accumulation totals. David Clarey, Journal Sentinel, 2 Apr. 2024 The gallery layout, with slight exceptions, has been virtually unchanged since opening day. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2024 In episode two of the series, Chanel (played by Juliette Binoche) is pressured by the Nazis to use her slight connection to Winston Churchill (a romance with the Duke of Westminster brought her into Churchill’s circle) to help broker peace between Germany and Great Britain. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 27 Mar. 2024
Verb
Despite Detroit’s big rebound in property values leading Wayne County’s resurgence, and not slighting the gains in defense spending in Macomb County, Oakland County continues to be the state’s main economic driver and Michigan’s most prosperous big county by far. Bill Laytner, Detroit Free Press, 5 Apr. 2024 Nationalist shoppers have previously attacked foreign brands for allegedly slighting China. Lionel Lim, Fortune Asia, 12 Mar. 2024 History can turn on one man feeling slighted by another. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 10 Mar. 2024 Which is not to slight 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, the Iowa State coup who turned a No. 3 overall pick, Trey Lance, into Mr. Irrelevant. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, 10 Feb. 2024 Phonte starts off the track recalling someone misspelling their names on a plaque, apparently reflecting that even as cult heroes, there are still people slighting them. Andre Gee, Rolling Stone, 20 Sep. 2023 The Sox are no better than the third-most interesting team in town behind the Patriots and Celtics, and that might be slighting the Bruins and Revolution. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 15 Sep. 2023 Because a relatively small percentage of these people—some 388,000—disembarked in North America, general histories have tended to slight the African slave trade to the colonies that became the United States. James Oakes, The New York Review of Books, 31 Aug. 2023 Hill’s primary issue is attracting America’s best players to non-Olympic events, such as the World Cup, and also negotiating with talents such as Trae Young, Zion Williamson, and Ja Morant, who have felt slighted in the past. Gary Washburn, BostonGlobe.com, 16 Sep. 2023
Noun
If David is the brain of Curb, however, Lewis was the raw, bleeding heart, the perpetually aggrieved best friend who takes offense at even the most minor slights and breaches, who can’t help but constantly be taken aback by his friend’s emotional limitations. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 28 Feb. 2024 Those slights aside, there’s still reason to look at this year’s nominees and see artists who stand to have standout (and in some cases, history-making) moments at this year’s show. Dan Heching, CNN, 28 Jan. 2024 This week in Milwaukee-area high school boys basketball featured a couple career milestones, a slight that became a national story and more clarity in the conference standings. Zac Bellman, Journal Sentinel, 28 Jan. 2024 Like Kobe, Kanye takes every slight against him and pushes forward because of it. Jayson Buford, Rolling Stone, 13 Feb. 2024 Maestro isn't the only project to come under fire from McCain in recent weeks, as the late senator John McCain's daughter spoke out against The View panelist Ana Navarro following what McCain perceived to be an on-air slight against her, despite Navarro not naming her. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 27 Dec. 2023 Feeling Undervalued By a significant margin, the number one root cause identified was women feeling deeply undervalued in their STEM roles, either through overt slights or subtle patterns of disregard. Serenity Gibbons, Forbes, 20 Feb. 2024 Johnson takes their sentiment both as an honor and a slight. Malia Mendez, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2024 The lack of recognition for The Color Purple, including in the best picture category, also seems like somewhat of a slight to producer Oprah Winfrey, who has been prominently supporting the film. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'slight.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adjective

Middle English, smooth, slight, probably from Old English sliht- (in eorth-slihtes level with the ground); akin to Old High German sleht smooth, slīhhan to glide — more at slick entry 2

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1701, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of slight was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near slight

Cite this Entry

“Slight.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slight. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

slight

1 of 3 adjective
1
a
: having a slim or delicate build : not stout
b
: lacking in strength or substance : flimsy, frail
c
: lacking weight, solidity, or importance : trivial
2
: small of its kind or in amount
slightly adverb
slightness noun

slight

2 of 3 verb
1
: to treat with disrespect
2
: to perform or attend to carelessly and without proper attention to detail

slight

3 of 3 noun
1
: an act or an instance of slighting
2
: a humiliating discourtesy

More from Merriam-Webster on slight

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