ˈsvelt How to pronounce svelte (audio)
svelter; sveltest
: having clean lines : sleek
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.

Common Misspelling(s)


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 That might seem primitive, but there's a lot of impressive technology here—not least the way that Apple has fitted satellite connectivity into something as svelte as the iPhone 15. WIRED, 15 Jan. 2023 Put your money in sectors that cater to a svelte and sated brand of consumer, and get out of the ones that rely on excess and compulsion. Damian Garde, STAT, 18 Oct. 2023 In the simplest terms, gravel bikes fall somewhere between svelte, skinny-tire road bikes and burlier, knobby-tire mountain bikes, combining aspects of each. Cindy Hirschfeld, New York Times, 4 Oct. 2023 Robert Garrett is looking svelte after dropping 50 pounds. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times, 29 Sep. 2023 In the dressing area is a Morrison dresser from Design Within Reach, over which hangs a large photo by photographer Greg Lotus of a svelte, dark-haired woman in white kissing the nose of an equally elegant white horse. Caron Golden, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Sep. 2023 Comparative in size to the svelte K-Slim, the K-Express can fit into small spaces and clear up room on your countertop, making this model apartment-friendly as well as budget-conscious. Rennie Dyball, Peoplemag, 22 Sep. 2023 The exterior is a bit ungainly, granted, but the interior is more svelte and contemporary than any yacht in its class. Giacomo Barbaro, Robb Report, 15 Sep. 2023 And if your plans include hopping in the car with your on-the-go lunch, you’re set for that too, because its svelte design allows for the cup to fit into most car cup holders with ease. Melanie Rud, Peoplemag, 10 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1817, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of svelte was circa 1817


Dictionary Entries Near svelte

Cite this Entry

“Svelte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: slender and graceful in form
sveltely adverb
svelteness noun

from French svelte "slender, sleek," from Italian svelto (same meaning), derived from svellere "to pluck out," derived from Latin evellere "to pluck"

More from Merriam-Webster on svelte

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