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[svelt, sfelt] /svɛlt, sfɛlt/
adjective, svelter, sveltest.
slender, especially gracefully slender in figure; lithe.
suave; blandly urbane.
Origin of svelte
1810-20; < French < Italian svelto < Vulgar Latin *exvellitus pulled out (replacing Latin ēvulsus, past participle of ēvellere), equivalent to Latin ex- ex-1 + velli-, variant stem of vellere to pull, pluck + -tus past participle suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for svelte
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I'd also like to meet the svelte one with store puffs and sorrel hair.

    The Gay Rebellion Robert W. Chambers
  • Tall, svelte, and as far as Jacques Dantin could see, she was young.

  • Jenny, being little and svelte, was distressed by the prevalent sumptuousness.

    Carnival Compton Mackenzie
  • Bella was slender and svelte, with long straight soft beautiful silken pale red hair and white-lidded eyes of grayish green.

    I, Mary MacLane Mary MacLane
  • Lucy Carteret challenged Telfer to a game; she has a tall, svelte figure, and knows she looks well at billiards.

British Dictionary definitions for svelte


/svɛlt; sfɛlt/
attractively or gracefully slim; slender
urbane or sophisticated
Word Origin
C19: from French, from Italian svelto, from svellere to pull out, from Latin ēvellere, from ex-1 + vellere to pull
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 svelte

"slender, lithe," c.1817, from French svelte "slim, slender," from Italian svelto "slim, slender," originally "pulled out, lengthened," from past participle of svellere "to pluck or root out," from Vulgar Latin *exvellere, from Latin ex- "out" (see ex-) + vellere "to pluck, stretch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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