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90s Slang You Should Know


[slahy] /slaɪ/
adjective, slyer, slyest.
cunning or wily:
sly as a fox.
stealthy, insidious, or secret.
playfully artful, mischievous, or roguish:
sly humor.
on the sly, secretly; furtively:
a tryst on the sly.
Origin of sly
1150-1200; Middle English sly, sley, from Old Norse slœgr “sly, cunning” (originally “able to strike, able to slay”); see slay
Related forms
slyly, adverb
slyness, noun
unsly, adjective, unslyer, unslyest.
unslyly, adverb
unslyness, noun
1. artful, subtle, foxy, crafty, shrewd, astute. 2. surreptitious, furtive, underhand, clandestine.
1. direct, obvious. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for slyest
Historical Examples
  • The coyote, or prairie-wolf, is the slyest animal that walks on four legs.

    The Boy Settlers Noah Brooks
  • It's the slyest trick the old fox has ever tried to play on us.

    A Man of the People Thomas Dixon
  • He is perhaps the slyest of animals—more sly than a fox, more obstinate than an English mule, and as timid as a squirrel.

    Peru in the Guano Age Alexander James Duffield
  • So they learned lots—and the slyest scoundrels learned the most.

  • She would wheedle things out of her mistress in the slyest way.

    True to his Colours Theodore P. Wilson
  • When buckled down to his work he became the slyest and cleverest of diplomats.

    Parisians in the Country Honore de Balzac
  • But the slyest and wisest of animals and men are liable at times to overreach themselves.

    Blazing Arrow Edward S. Ellis
  • But my Uncle Diego is the slyest Galician born in this century.

    The Joy of Captain Ribot Armando Palacio Valds
  • He makes merry over the weaknesses of those who follow the craft of Old Izaak, always with the slyest of genial manners.

  • To tell the truth, human beings are the slyest and crudest of animals.

    Verotchka's Tales Mamin Siberiak
British Dictionary definitions for slyest


adjective slyer, slyest, slier, sliest
crafty; artful: a sly dodge
insidious; furtive: a sly manner
playfully mischievous; roguish: sly humour
on the sly, in a secretive manner
Derived Forms
slyly, slily, adverb
slyness, noun
Word Origin
C12: from Old Norse slǣgr clever, literally: able to strike, from slā to slay
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for slyest



c.1200, "skillful, clever, dexterous," from Old Norse sloegr "cunning, crafty, sly," from Proto-Germanic *slogis (cf. Low German slu "cunning, sly," German schlau), probably from base *slak- "to strike, hit" (see slay (v.)), with an original notion of "able to hit." Cf. German verschlagen "cunning, crafty, sly," schlagfertig "quick-witted," literally "strike-ready," from schlagen "to strike." A non-pejorative use of the word lingered in northern English dialect until 20c. On the sly "in secret" is recorded from 1812. Sly-boots "a seeming Silly, but subtil Fellow" is in the 1700 "Dictionary of the Canting Crew."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with slyest


see: on the sly
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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