\ ˈslī How to pronounce sly (audio) \
slyer also slier\ ˈslī(-​ə)r How to pronounce slier (audio) \; slyest also sliest\ ˈslī-​əst How to pronounce sliest (audio) \

Definition of sly

1 chiefly dialectal
a : wise in practical affairs
b : displaying cleverness : ingenious
2a : clever in concealing one's aims or ends : furtive
b : lacking in straightforwardness and candor : dissembling
3 : lightly mischievous : roguish a sly jest
on the sly
: in a manner intended to avoid notice

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Other Words from sly

slyly or less commonly slily adverb
She slyly evaded the question.
slyness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for sly

sly, cunning, crafty, wily, tricky, foxy, artful, slick mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means. sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods. a sly corporate raider cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing. the cunning fox avoided the trap crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method. a crafty lefthander wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering. the wily fugitive escaped the posse tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering. a tricky political operative foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing. a foxy publicity man planting stories artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness. elicited the information by artful questioning slick emphasizes smoothness and guile. slick operators selling time-sharing

Examples of sly in a Sentence

the movie pairs a sly, dissembling ex-con with an upstanding, straight-arrow cop why, you sly fellow! I had no idea you were planning my birthday party
Recent Examples on the Web But while the former never quite found its comic footing, Space Force won me over straight out of the gate with its wickedly sly humor, absurdist set-ups, and unexpected heart. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "The Ars verdict is in: Space Force is the best new series of 2020 (so far)," 29 May 2020 With each season, the Levys continued to build this wacky world in all sorts of sly and surprising ways. Mark Dawidziak, cleveland, "‘Schitt’s Creek’ is a quirky comedy that hits home in heartwarming fashion," 22 Feb. 2020 The common and the normal in Total Ground are, in fact, sly deceptions, filled with drama. Amy Weiss-meyer, The Atlantic, "A View From the Before Times," 6 Apr. 2020 Tap or click to learn how to make a call on the sly, the trick to better battery life and the secret to better Wi-Fi. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "10 things you don’t need around the house anymore because of tech," 2 Dec. 2019 SiriusXM considered naming the channel Women Aren’t Funny, a sly commentary on the sexist slur hurled at some female comics. David Bauder, USA TODAY, "SiriusXM channel starring female comedians debuts featuring Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, Whoopi Goldberg," 1 Apr. 2020 Plus, the stack of VHS tapes could be a sly nod to his time hosting America's Funniest Home Videos. Katie Bourque, Good Housekeeping, "Who Is Taco on 'The Masked Singer'? Fans Are Certain They've Figured It Out," 20 Feb. 2020 Then Freud makes one of the sly rhetorical turns by which his work is marked and that give it its special potency. Janet Malcolm, The New York Review of Books, "Lovesick," 24 Mar. 2020 One user attempts to follow a Bob Ross painting tutorial; another tries to cover up his face tattoos with makeup, sporting a sly grin. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, "The TikTok-Ready Sounds of Beach Bunny," 24 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sly.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sly

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for sly

Middle English sleighe, sli, from Old Norse slœgr; akin to Old English slēan to strike — more at slay

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Time Traveler for sly

Time Traveler

The first known use of sly was in the 13th century

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Statistics for sly

Last Updated

20 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sly. Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for sly

How to pronounce sly (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of sly

: clever in a dishonest way
: showing that you know a secret
\ ˈslī How to pronounce sly (audio) \
slier or slyer; sliest or slyest

Kids Definition of sly

1 : both clever and tricky
2 : tending to keep secrets and hide intentions
3 : mischievous sense 2 There were teachers all over the place, and any kind of fighting or taunting, above a sly pinch … was out.— Lynne Reid Banks, The Indian in the Cupboard
on the sly
: so as not to be seen or caught : secretly

Other Words from sly

slyly adverb
slyness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on sly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sly

Spanish Central: Translation of sly

Nglish: Translation of sly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sly for Arabic Speakers

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