\ ˈsvelt How to pronounce svelte (audio) , ˈsfelt \
svelter; sveltest

Definition of svelte

b : having clean lines : sleek

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Other Words from svelte

sveltely adverb
svelteness noun

Did You Know?

Svelte came to us, by way of French, from Italian svelto, which itself comes from the Italian verb svellere, meaning "to pluck out" or "to pull or stretch out." In English svelte has been used since the early 19th century to describe a slender appearance, as in A.B. Granville's 1838 description of a countess who was "tall, svelte, pale, and interesting." By the 20th century, English speakers had stretched the word's meaning to suggest an urbane or suave nature—as poet Ezra Pound did when he described "svelte Verona," a city he visited in north Italy.

Examples of svelte in a Sentence

She has a svelte figure. the svelte dancer seemed to float across the stage
Recent Examples on the Web This means that during their lengthy adolescence, Jane and Petey were more svelte and would have followed a very different lifestyle than their mature counterparts. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "T. rex teens looked wildly different than the adults we’re familiar with," 3 Jan. 2020 Submerged in curry-ish sans milky broth, a tangle of svelte, pliable and fresh tasting noodles. Matt Wake |, al, "Want a bowl of exotic comfort food? Try this local ramen spot," 16 Jan. 2020 Here is that all-too-rare masterpiece: a svelte big novel. Sarah K. Benning, Washington Post, "Best Books of 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 Here is that all-too-rare masterpiece: a svelte big novel. Sarah K. Benning, Washington Post, "Best Books of 2019," 21 Nov. 2019 The franchise left tackle is more of an outside linebacker now, a svelte 6-foot-4, 230-ish-pound frame. Joe Nguyen, The Denver Post, "Broncos vs. Vikings — a roundup of Denver’s Week 11 loss to Minnesota," 18 Nov. 2019 Despite the standard electronic damping system, the ride quality is not as svelte as expected. Mark Maynard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 VW Arteon: a cure for the common sedan," 6 Sep. 2019 Adele was looking decidedly more svelte and wearing a black, off-the-shoulder gown, cinched with a jeweled belt -- all the better to show off her small waist, which sent Twitter into a spin. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Adele sported a new look at Drake's birthday party and it was fire," 25 Oct. 2019 The second season of Insatiable, which is about how the formerly overweight Patty uses her powers as a newly svelte hottie to exact revenge on those who wronged her, is currently available on Netflix. Lynette Rice,, "Grey's Anatomy actor Alex Landi on breaking Asian stereotypes as a stripper in Insatiable," 14 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'svelte.' 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 svelte

circa 1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for svelte

French, from Italian svelto, from past participle of svellere to pluck out, modification of Latin evellere, from e- + vellere to pluck — more at vulnerable

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Time Traveler for svelte

Time Traveler

The first known use of svelte was circa 1817

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Svelte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for svelte


How to pronounce svelte (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of svelte

: thin in an attractive or graceful way

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More from Merriam-Webster on svelte

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for svelte

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with svelte

Spanish Central: Translation of svelte

Nglish: Translation of svelte for Spanish Speakers

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