skill; dexterity.
an artifice; stratagem.
cunning; craft.

Origin of sleight

1225–75; Middle English; early Middle English slēgth < Old Norse slǣgth. See sly, -th1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sleight

Contemporary Examples of sleight

  • To posit that the war brings us closer to faith is a sleight of hand that makes fools of us all.

    The Daily Beast logo
    There Are Only Atheists in Fox Holes

    Michael Carson

    October 5, 2014

  • He does the heavy lifting, and she passes it off with a sleight of hand.

  • The real Mamet is an actor who became a writer and had a real sense of the criminal and the sleight of hand in American life.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Broadway's Comeback Kid

    Kevin Sessums

    November 2, 2011

  • But to simply call all these feelings melancholy, Toohey argues, is to link disparate experiences by a sleight of metaphor.

    The Daily Beast logo
    A Book About Boredom Is Anything But

    Jeremy Axelrod

    June 20, 2011

  • The only sleight of hand I can detect is the fact that our hero never actually kills anyone himself.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Goodfellas Turns 20

    Sean Macaulay

    September 21, 2010

Historical Examples of sleight

  • I got it out of him, by sleight of hand—where we had met before.

    The Coast of Chance

    Esther Chamberlain

  • That was one of the miracles we asked you the sleight of, and are you going to say nothing about that?

  • The treatises on sleight of hand give the method of executing this trick.

    The Sharper Detected and Exposed

    Jean-Eugne Robert-Houdin

  • Of course, there are tricks of sleight of hand by which the conclusion is evaded.

    'I Believe' and other essays

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • Yet in these seeming miracles there is nothing of "black art" or sleight of hand.

    History of California

    Helen Elliott Bandini

British Dictionary definitions for sleight


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

Word Origin and History for sleight

"cunning," early 14c. alteration of sleahthe (c.1200), from Old Norse sloegð "cleverness, cunning, slyness," from sloegr (see sly). Meaning "skill, cleverness, dexterity" is from late 14c. Meaning "feat or trick requiring quickness and nimbleness of the hands" is from 1590s. Term sleight of hand is attested from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper