[ deft ]
/ dɛft /

adjective, deft·er, deft·est.

dexterous; nimble; skillful; clever: deft hands; a deft mechanic.

Nearby words

  1. defriend,
  2. defrock,
  3. defrost,
  4. defroster,
  5. defs.,
  6. defunct,
  7. defunctive,
  8. defund,
  9. defuse,
  10. defusion

Origin of deft

1175–1225; Middle English; variant of daft

Related formsdeft·ly, adverbdeft·ness, nounun·deft, adjective

Synonym study Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for deft

British Dictionary definitions for deft


/ (dɛft) /


quick and neat in movement; nimble; dexterous
Derived Formsdeftly, adverbdeftness, noun

Word Origin for deft

C13 (in the sense: gentle): see daft

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

Word Origin and History for deft



Old English gedæfte "mild, gentle," differentiated in Middle English into daft (q.v.) and this word, via sense of "apt, skillful, adept." Cognate with Gothic gadaban "to be fit," Old Norse dafna "to grow strong," Dutch deftig "important, relevant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper