\ ˈsvelt How to pronounce svelte (audio) , 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



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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 And out of 300 breeds considered, the stately Dobermann takes first place as the most spoiled dog breed in the United States, followed by svelte Whippets and grandiose Great Danes. Betsy Cribb, Southern Living, 1 July 2021 The Disney conglomerate is offering all three of those services bundled together for a svelte $14 a month, which is six bucks cheaper compared to subscribing to them separately. Luke Winkie, Vulture, 18 June 2021 It’s a svelte 141 pages compared with the 2376-page Senate behemoth. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, 15 June 2021 Karrant is a svelte jazz singer who is also comfortable crooning at cabaret performances. George Varga, San Diego Union-Tribune, 13 June 2021 That’s about 3mm longer and wider than the current model, but with the same svelte thickness as now. David Phelan, Forbes, 12 June 2021 That might seem strange for a svelte cat with the proportions of a runner, the sort of cat that chased down prey on the open ground. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 June 2021 Then's there's the plane's lean 199 feet (60 meters) of super-svelte lines, with no space inside for those undesirable middle seats -- an advantage post-pandemic. Maureen O'hare, CNN, 17 May 2021 His harmonic sense had few equals, notably in his arrangements for the World Saxophone Quartet, which flicker with svelte dissonances that hover at the edge of atonality. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, 11 May 2021

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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The first known use of svelte was circa 1817

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Last Updated

7 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Svelte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of svelte

: thin in an attractive or graceful way

More from Merriam-Webster on svelte

Nglish: Translation of svelte for Spanish Speakers


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