Sleight vs. Slight

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Sleight is a noun that means the use of skill or dexterity. Sleight is an archaic word. For the most part, the word sleight is only seen in the phrase sleight of hand, which refers to the ability of a magician to deceive the eye and perform conjuring tricks. The phrase sleight of hand may also refer to a skillful deception, of any sort. Sleight comes from the Old Norse word slaegth, which means sly.

Slight means an inconsequential amount, to a small extent, frail, or having little significance, when used as an adjective. As a noun, slight refers to an insult. Slight may also be used as a transitive verb to mean doing something poorly or treating something or someone as unimportant or with disrespect. Related words are the adverb slightly, and the noun slightness. Slight comes from the Old Norse word slettr, meaning make smooth or level.


Police are investigating several reports of mobile phones going missing after shops were visited by a customer with a knack for sleight-of-hand. (The Daily Post)

The fraudsters then get the staff confused and use sleight of hand to seize money belonging to the business. (The Belfast Telegraph)

In the course of the evening we get rope-tricks, sleight of hand and, from Chris Cox, mind-reading. (The Guardian)

Temperatures in Denver are expected to climb back in the 90s on Friday with a slight chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms. (The Denver Post)

TV3 has taken over the show that was once a TVNZ staple so it was with slight excitement and wonderment that I sat down with greasy hands poised above my laptop to wrestle some words of judgment into something digestible. (The New Zealand Herald)

LOVERRO: Frank Robinson slighted during MLB’s ‘Greatest Living Players’ salute (The Washington Times)

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