\ˈsvelt, ˈsfelt\
svelter; sveltest

Definition of svelte 

1a : slender, lithe

b : having clean lines : sleek

2 : urbane, suave

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Other Words from svelte

sveltely adverb
svelteness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for svelte


bony (also boney), fatless, lean, lithe, skinny, slender, slim, spare, thin


chubby, corpulent, fat, obese, overweight, plump, portly, rotund, tubby

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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

The latest method is to retrofit old aircraft and order new ones with svelte lavatories that allow for an extra row of seats in the cabin. Mary Schlangenstein,, "Airline bathrooms are getting smaller — you’re not imagining it," 10 July 2018 Since the rhino gestation period is 16- to 18-months, Linda must have kept her svelte figure for some time. Washington Post, "Once known as the awkward rhino, Stormy fathers baby," 6 July 2018 While Thanking Carrie Underwood for Workout Gear Gift Clarkson flaunted her svelte figure on the latest season of The Voice. Jeff Nelson,, "Kelly Clarkson Opens Up About Weight Loss, Says It Was Due to ‘Clean Eating’ and ‘Thyroid Issue'," 7 June 2018 Polaris wanted a vehicle that blended the experience of a motorcycle with the stability of a car, and a three-wheel design kept the Slingshot to a svelte 1,700 pounds—light enough to qualify, officially, as a motorcycle. Alex Davies, WIRED, "The Delightfully Nonsensical Slingshot Might Just Be the Future of Driving," 4 July 2018 That’s somewhat to the detriment of Lilly’s role as Hope, who, in lieu of meaningful character development, has been gifted her own superheroic identity, the Wasp, complete with svelte shrinking suit and fluttering wings. Justin Chang,, "'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is a bright, cheery tonic from the Marvel superhero factory," 27 June 2018 Not so with the Chogori, which is a relatively svelte eight pounds and still boasts a whopping 44.3 square feet. Outside Online, "The Best Tents of 2018," 15 May 2018 The sedan loses nearly 100 pounds to a svelte 2,906 pounds and the suspension is stiffer overall, giving the sedan excellent and surprising grab with little to no roll. Robert Duffer,, "Best affordable sports car? 2017 Honda Civic Si," 7 Sep. 2017 Kate — sleek, svelte, gazelle-limbed — was on every magazine cover. Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "What the difference between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle says about how we conceive of the “ideal woman”," 18 May 2018

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

The first known use of svelte was circa 1817

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English Language Learners Definition of svelte

: thin in an attractive or graceful way

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Comments on svelte

What made you want to look up svelte? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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