Definition of deceptively in English:


Line breaks: de¦cep|tive¦ly


[usually as submodifier]
1In a way or to an extent that gives a misleading impression:
More example sentences
  • Don't be fooled by the slick advertising and deceptively impressive hardware and launch titles.
  • Even more enigmatic is the correspondent who begins, ‘Your reviews are always deceptively written so as to give the impression of content’.
  • From July 1, fines for deceptively labelling the wrong species will increase from $3,000 to a maximum of $275,000.
1.1To a lesser extent than appears the case: the idea was deceptively simple
More example sentences
  • Their idea is deceptively simple: allow people to chat each other up on their mobile phones.
  • It achieved all this with a deceptively simple idea: buy electricity from private power producers and resell it to municipal and state utility companies.
  • No matter who her intended audience - readers of a scholarly journal or a museum catalog - she speaks in the same clear and deceptively simple conversational voice.
1.2To a greater extent than appears the case: the airy and deceptively spacious lounge
More example sentences
  • The former Hellas Verona player is also deceptively quick considering his size, and rumours have it that Laursen is the fastest player on the Danish national team in a 100 metre dash.
  • This is a deceptively spacious property with a ground floor WC, an L-shaped lounge/dining room, a modern fitted kitchen, three bedrooms, two of which are doubles, and a bathroom.
  • Let's start with 13 Sherwood Grove, a deceptively spacious semi in a quiet cul-de-sac location which is on the market for £110,000.


Deceptively belongs to a very small set of words whose meaning is genuinely ambiguous. It can be used in similar contexts to mean both one thing and also its complete opposite. A deceptively smooth surface is one which appears smooth but in fact is not smooth at all, while a deceptively spacious room is one that does not look spacious but is in fact more spacious than it appears. But what is a deceptively steep gradient? Or a person who is described as deceptively strong? To avoid confusion, it is probably best to reword and not to use deceptively in such contexts at all.

Definition of deceptively in: