adjective, slight·er, slight·est.
  1. small in amount, degree, etc.: a slight increase; a slight odor.
  2. of little importance, influence, etc.; trivial: a slight cut.
  3. slender or slim; not heavily built.
  4. frail; flimsy; delicate: a slight fabric.
  5. of little substance or strength.
verb (used with object)
  1. to treat as of little importance.
  2. to treat (someone) with indifference; ignore, especially pointedly or contemptuously; snub: to be slighted by society.
  3. to do negligently; scamp: to slight one's studies.
  1. an act or instance of slighting or being slighted: The critics’ slights led her to change direction in her work.
  2. a pointed and contemptuous discourtesy; affront: She considered not being invited an unforgivable slight.

Origin of slight

1250–1300; Middle English (adj.) smooth, sleek, slender; compare Old English -sliht- in eorth-slihtes even with ground; cognate with German schlicht, Old Norse slēttr, Gothic slaihts smooth
Related formsslight·er, nounslight·ly, adverbslight·ness, nouno·ver·slight, adjectiveun·slight·ed, adjective

Synonyms for slight

2. insignificant, trifling, paltry. 3. See slender. 4. weak, feeble, fragile. 5. unsubstantial, inconsiderable. 6. disdain, scorn. Slight, disregard, neglect, overlook mean to pay no attention or too little attention to someone or something. To slight is to give only superficial attention to something important: to slight one's work. To disregard is to pay no attention to a person or thing: to disregard the rules; in some circumstances, to disregard may be admirable: to disregard a handicap. To neglect is to shirk paying sufficient attention to a person or thing: to neglect one's correspondence. To overlook is to fail to see someone or something (possibly because of carelessness): to overlook a bill that is due. 9. neglect, disregard, inattention. 10. See insult.

Antonyms for slight Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for slights

Contemporary Examples of slights

Historical Examples of slights

  • Passive, patient, long-suffering she had been the while the mortifications and slights were for herself.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • For the eye is fastened on the life, and slights the circumstance.

    Essays, First Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • She was too sensitive to slights to risk the repulses he says she accepted.

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Elizabeth Robins Pennell

  • Did she not bear all the slights put upon her by those who are not half as good as she?

    Fairy Fingers

    Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie

  • You never find he slights his work when your back is turned?

    Black Beauty

    Anna Sewell

British Dictionary definitions for slights


  1. small in quantity or extent
  2. of small importance; trifling
  3. slim and delicate
  4. lacking in strength or substance
  5. Southwest English dialect ill
verb (tr)
  1. to show indifference or disregard for (someone); snub
  2. to treat as unimportant or trifling
  3. US to devote inadequate attention to (work, duties, etc)
  1. an act or omission indicating supercilious neglect or indifference
Derived Formsslightness, noun

Word Origin for slight

C13: from Old Norse slēttr smooth; related to Old High German slehtr, Gothic slaihts, Middle Dutch slecht simple
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 slights



early 14c., "flat, smooth; hairless," probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse slettr "smooth, sleek," from Proto-Germanic *slikhtaz (cf. Old Saxon slicht; Low German slicht "smooth, plain common;" Old English -sliht "level," attested in eorðslihtes "level with the ground;" Old Frisian sliucht "smooth, slight," Middle Dutch sleht "even, plain," Old High German sleht, Gothic slaihts "smooth"), probably from a collateral form of PIE *sleig- "to smooth, glide, be muddy," from root *(s)lei- "slimy" (see slime (n.)).

Sense evolution probably is from "smooth" (c.1300), to "slim, slender; of light texture," hence "not good or strong; insubstantial, trifling, inferior, insignificant" (early 14c.). Meaning "small in amount" is from 1520s. Sense of German cognate schlecht developed from "smooth, plain, simple" to "bad, mean, base," and as it did it was replaced in the original senses by schlicht, a back-formation from schlichten "to smooth, to plane," a derivative of schlecht in the old sense [Klein].



c.1300, "make plain or smooth," from slight (adj.) Meaning "treat with indifference" (1590s) is from the adjective in sense of "having little worth." Related: Slighted; slighting.



1550s, "small amount or weight," from slight (v.). Meaning "act of intentional neglect or ignoring out of displeasure or contempt" is from 1701, probably via 17c. phrase make a slight of (1610s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with slights


see in the least (slightest).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.