sly

[ slahy ]
/ slaɪ /
|||

adjective, sly·er, sly·est.

cunning or wily: sly as a fox.
stealthy, insidious, or secret.
playfully artful, mischievous, or roguish: sly humor.

Nearby words

  1. slutch,
  2. sluter,
  3. sluttery,
  4. sluttish,
  5. slutty,
  6. sly grog,
  7. sly-grog,
  8. slyboots,
  9. slyly,
  10. slyness

Idioms

    on the sly, secretly; furtively: a tryst on the sly.

Origin of sly

1150–1200; Middle English sly, sley, from Old Norse slœgr “sly, cunning” (originally “able to strike, able to slay”); see slay

Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sly


British Dictionary definitions for sly

sly

/ (slaɪ) /

adjective slyer, slyest, slier or sliest

crafty; artfula sly dodge
insidious; furtivea sly manner
playfully mischievous; roguishsly humour

noun

on the sly in a secretive manner
Derived Formsslyly or slily, adverbslyness, noun

Word Origin for sly

C12: from Old Norse slǣgr clever, literally: able to strike, from slā to slay

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 sly

sly

adj.

c.1200, "skillful, clever, dexterous," from Old Norse sloegr "cunning, crafty, sly," from Proto-Germanic *slogis (cf. Low German slu "cunning, sly," German schlau), probably from base *slak- "to strike, hit" (see slay (v.)), with an original notion of "able to hit." Cf. German verschlagen "cunning, crafty, sly," schlagfertig "quick-witted," literally "strike-ready," from schlagen "to strike." A non-pejorative use of the word lingered in northern English dialect until 20c. On the sly "in secret" is recorded from 1812. Sly-boots "a seeming Silly, but subtil Fellow" is in the 1700 "Dictionary of the Canting Crew."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sly

sly

see on the sly.

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