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

Definition of svelte

1a : slender, lithe
b : having clean lines : sleek
2 : urbane, suave

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 Weighing in at a svelte 147 pounds, and offering 92 pound-feet of torque at 8,750 rpm, this is the most powerful engine in the dual-sport class. Karl Brauer, Forbes, 3 Jan. 2022 In just two years, this svelte four-door electric sport sedan has already begun to outsell the vaunted Porsche 911, the iconic heart and soul of the brand. Dan Edmunds, Car and Driver, 30 Nov. 2021 This three-person version weighs a svelte 3 pounds and 8 ounces, which is less than a lot of mainstream two-person tents. Matt Jancer, Wired, 29 Nov. 2021 The sleek, svelte mammals, which are farmed in large numbers, turned out to be highly susceptible to the virus. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2021 But more e-bikes with svelte frames and lighter components are coming onto the scene—good news for those of us who are garage-less. Nicole Nguyen, WSJ, 7 Nov. 2021 Beyonce - Amy's lost a lot of weight and is looking quite svelte! Benjamin Vanhoose,, 10 Nov. 2021 Squeezing a fitness tracker into such a svelte package was no small feat, said John Capodilupo, Whoop’s chief technology officer. New York Times, 8 Sep. 2021 Weighing in at a svelte 205 pounds, this electric dynamo delivers 281 horsepower, 317lb.-ft. of torque, and generates a maximum speed of 13,800rpm. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, 2 Nov. 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

8 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Svelte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of svelte

: thin in an attractive or graceful way : slender

More from Merriam-Webster on svelte

Nglish: Translation of svelte for Spanish Speakers


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