Definition of sleight in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /slʌɪt/


[mass noun] literary
The use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive: except by sleight of logic, the two positions cannot be harmonized
More example sentences
  • What we're faced with are psychic sharps, like card sharps: sleight of hand, sleight of mind.
  • It is also deftly staged using an impressive sleight of hand and sleight of eye.
  • Their skill and sleight of foot are bound to yield many goals this season.


sleight of hand

Pronunciation: /slʌɪt əv ˈhand/
Manual dexterity, typically in performing conjuring tricks: a nifty bit of sleight of hand got the ashtray into the correct position
More example sentences
  • There is every chance that he performed a little sleight of hand and other conjuring.
  • After my first success I became intensely interested and gave up the sleight of hand and conjuring work I had been doing.
  • These people are magicians - expert architects of enjoyment - performing incredible sleights of hand.
dexterity, adroitness, deftness, nimbleness of fingers, skill
1.1Skilful deception: this is financial sleight of hand of the worst sort
More example sentences
  • He freely admitted that magic depended on deception and sleight of hand but said: ‘Origami is real magic!’
  • One of the most startling public acts of deception and sleight of hand has been undertaken by the provincial government.
  • However, people of the present day are getting more enlightened; and although they see something done beyond their ken, yet they know it is only a piece of deception or sleight of hand on the part of the performers.
deception, deceit, dissimulation, double-dealing, chicanery, trickery, sharp practice, legerdemain


Middle English sleghth 'cunning, skill', from Old Norse slœgth, from slœgr 'sly'.

  • sly from Middle English:

    Early use of sly, which comes from Old Norse slœgr ‘cunning’, included the sense ‘dexterous, skilful’. The phrase on the sly is recorded in use from the early 19th century. Sleight (Middle English) is from the same source, and passed from the sense ‘cunning’ to ‘sleight of hand’ in the late 16th century.

Words that rhyme with sleight

affright, alight, alright, aright, bedight, bight, bite, blight, bright, byte, cite, dight, Dwight, excite, fight, flight, fright, goodnight, height, ignite, impolite, indict, indite, invite, kite, knight, light, lite, might, mite, night, nite, outfight, outright, plight, polite, quite, right, rite, sight, site, skintight, skite, slight, smite, Snow-white, spite, sprite, tight, tonight, trite, twite, underwrite, unite, uptight, white, wight, wright, write

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sleight

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.