\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

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 is where thinness betrays it: Acer sacrificed performance to reach this level of svelte, but that would be ok if the laptop wasn't priced at $1,699. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Acer Swift 7 review: Thinness above all else demands many compromises," 8 Nov. 2018 Why does Trump look nearly as svelte as Dwight Eisenhower? Avi Selk, The Seattle Times, "Did you see that painting hanging behind Trump during ‘60 Minutes’ interview? Here’s what we know about it," 15 Oct. 2018 The Lefroy, coming in at a svelte ten ounces, is made from a proprietary fabric that dries fast and stretches in every direction. Graham Averill, Outside Online, "The Best Summer Hiking Pants for Men," 28 June 2018 She-Ra’s characters vary in size, shape, and skin color — the princesses aren’t all svelte glamazons — and some of the characters are shown to be attracted, romantically and platonically, to the same gender, or not just one gender. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power honors and challenges the original She-Ra.," 21 Nov. 2018 The MacBook, released in 2015, is svelte but slow with sad battery life. Joanna Stern, WSJ, "New MacBook Air Review: Your Next Laptop Has Arrived (Three Years Late)," 6 Nov. 2018 However, she's also posted pictures post-workout, in tight-fitting clothing that shows off her svelte figure (and killer legs!). Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood Just Shared Her First Baby Bump Photo Since Announcing Her Pregnancy," 13 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for svelte

Last Updated

10 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for svelte

The first known use of svelte was circa 1817

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More Definitions for svelte



English Language Learners Definition of svelte

: thin in an attractive or graceful way

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More from Merriam-Webster on svelte

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with svelte

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for svelte

Spanish Central: Translation of svelte

Nglish: Translation of svelte for Spanish Speakers

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