- cunning or wily: sly as a fox.
- stealthy, insidious, or secret.
- playfully artful, mischievous, or roguish: sly humor.
- on the sly, secretly; furtively: a tryst on the sly.
Origin of sly
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for slyness
We shall learn if slyness and treachery are to be defeated by fair-going and honour.The O'Ruddy
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
- crafty; artfula sly dodge
- insidious; furtivea sly manner
- playfully mischievous; roguishsly humour
- on the sly in a secretive manner
Word Origin and History for slyness
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."
Idioms and Phrases with slyness
see on the sly.