Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

sly

[slahy]
See more synonyms for sly on Thesaurus.com
adjective, sly·er, sly·est.
  1. cunning or wily: sly as a fox.
  2. stealthy, insidious, or secret.
  3. playfully artful, mischievous, or roguish: sly humor.
Show More
Idioms
  1. on the sly, secretly; furtively: a tryst on the sly.
Show More

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 formssly·ly, adverbsly·ness, nounun·sly, adjective, un·sly·er, un·sly·est.un·sly·ly, adverbun·sly·ness, noun

Synonyms

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Antonyms

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

falsehoodinfamyduplicityfalsitystealingshadinessdeceitartificeracketfrauddishonestygraftdouble-dealinginfidelitycheatingtrickerytrickinessbunkcunningcorruption

Examples from the Web for slyness

Historical Examples

  • We shall learn if slyness and treachery are to be defeated by fair-going and honour.

    The O'Ruddy

    Stephen Crane

  • It was like a child, frightened into slyness, coaxing its mother.

    Little Novels of Italy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • He combines the ferocity of the tiger, the slyness of the fox, and the shape of a monkey.

    The Kentucky Ranger

    Edward T. Curnick

  • She had read him and was openly rejoicing in what she thought his slyness.

    The Call of the Blood

    Robert Smythe Hichens

  • Now, however, the diabolical reason of his slyness was apparent.

    The heart of happy hollow

    Paul Laurence Dunbar


British Dictionary definitions for slyness

sly

adjective slyer, slyest, slier or sliest
  1. crafty; artfula sly dodge
  2. insidious; furtivea sly manner
  3. playfully mischievous; roguishsly humour
Show More
noun
  1. on the sly in a secretive manner
Show More
Derived Formsslyly or slily, adverbslyness, noun

Word Origin

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 slyness

n.

mid-14c., from sly (adj.) + -ness.

Show More

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."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with slyness

sly

see on the sly.

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