[ slahyt ]
/ slaɪt /
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skill; dexterity.
an artifice; stratagem.
cunning; craft.
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Origin of sleight

1225–75; Middle English; early Middle English slēgth<Old Norse slǣgth.See sly, -th1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sleight mean?

Sleight means skill, especially with one’s hands (dexterity).

It can also mean trickery or cunning, or a specific trick or scheme.

Sleight is by far most commonly used in the phrase sleight of hand, whose meanings are very similar to those of sleight: manual dexterity, general trickery, or a trick performed with quick and skillful hand movements.

Sleight and sleight of hand are especially associated with coin and card tricks that require such hand movements. They’re also associated with deceptive ways of stealing, such as pickpocketing.

Sleight should not be confused with the word slight, which has the same pronunciation. As an adjective, slight means small or insignificant. As a noun, it commonly means the act of treating someone with indifference or snubbing them.

Example: The illusionist spent years perfecting his sleight so that it was undetectable even at close range.

Where does sleight come from?

The first records of sleight come from the 1200s. It comes from Old Norse slægth, from slægr, which means “sly” and originally had the meaning of “able to strike” or “able to slay.” In fact, the English words sly and slay are related to the same root.

Sleight can mean trickery, as in It takes great sleight to deceive me. It can also refer to a trick, as in Old magicians rarely see a sleight they haven’t seen before. Sleight is rarely used outside of its appearance in sleight of hand. When it’s used in sleight of hand, it means skill or nimbleness. But sleight of hand is frequently used in more figurative ways to criticize actions or words as deceptive, as in His comment is a clever sleight of hand intended to distract us from the real issue. It can also be used to compare something to a magic trick, as in Her literary sleight of hand is dazzling.

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What are some synonyms for sleight?

What are some words that share a root or word element with sleight

What are some words that often get used in discussing sleight?

What are some words sleight may be commonly confused with?

How is sleight used in real life?

Sleight most commonly used in the phrase sleight of hand.



Try using sleight!

Is sleight used correctly in the following sentence?

I took it as a sleight when my contribution to the project was not acknowledged.

How to use sleight in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sleight

/ (slaɪt) /

noun archaic
skill; dexteritySee also sleight of hand
a trick or stratagem
cunning; trickery

Word Origin for sleight

C14: from Old Norse slægth, from slægr sly
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