Definition of deceptively in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈsɛptɪvli/


[usually as submodifier]
1In a way or to an extent that gives a misleading impression:
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.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de¦cep|tive¦ly

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