Definition of sleight in US English:



  • The use of dexterity or cunning, especially so as to deceive.

    ‘except by sleight of logic, the two positions cannot be harmonized’
    • ‘Instead, by some sleight of mind, it distorts our idea of the pool of possibilities.’
    • ‘By some psychological sleight, it can actually make winners feel like losers.’
    • ‘Their skill and sleight of foot are bound to yield many goals this season.’
    • ‘It is also deftly staged using an impressive sleight of hand and sleight of eye.’
    • ‘What we're faced with are psychic sharps, like card sharps: sleight of hand, sleight of mind.’
    trick, hoax, ruse, wile, ploy, stratagem, artifice, dodge, bluff, manoeuvre, machination, pretext, pretence, expedient, tactic, intrigue, scheme, deception, fraud, masquerade, blind, smokescreen, stunt, game
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  • sleight of hand

    • 1literary Manual dexterity, typically in performing tricks.

      ‘a nifty bit of sleight of hand got the ashtray into the correct position’
      • ‘These people are magicians - expert architects of enjoyment - performing incredible sleights of hand.’
      • ‘After my first success I became intensely interested and gave up the sleight of hand and conjuring work I had been doing.’
      • ‘There is every chance that he performed a little sleight of hand and other conjuring.’
      • ‘You can't reveal their hidden microphones or mimic their tricks with sleight of hand.’
      • ‘From the outset of his remarkable career, juggling was ‘something that marked me’, a special ability of sleight of hand in which dexterity is the fundamental attribute.’
      • ‘What these powers were I, of course, know as little as anyone else, but they certainly were far exalted above the vulgar sleight of hand and tricks of ordinary so-called magicians.’
      • ‘As any student of the paranormal will tell you, deceivers and sleight - of - hand merchants need lashings of data from which to pick and choose.’
      • ‘And that's what I've always believed in myself, and that it was not really as much about the tricks or the sleight of hand as it was the person doing it.’
      • ‘It's like the stage business that distracts the audience while the magician does his sleight of hand trick.’
      • ‘Understanding how your audience thinks is the key to a great response to a trick, not the sleight of hand, he says.’
      dexterity, adroitness, deftness, nimbleness of fingers, skill
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      1. 1.1Skillful deception.
        ‘this is financial sleight of hand of the worst sort’
        • ‘One of the most startling public acts of deception and sleight of hand has been undertaken by the provincial government.’
        • ‘But whether the $40bn is merely another double-counting sleight - of-hand exercise or a genuine boost remains to be seen.’
        • ‘Such statistical sleights of hand (described by Lomborg as ‘a statistical finesse’) are obviously nothing new, and their use has certainly not been restricted to environmentalists.’
        • ‘He freely admitted that magic depended on deception and sleight of hand but said: ‘Origami is real magic!’’
        • ‘But this argument is too important for sleights of hand.’
        • ‘Instead, they feature constant sleights of hand, bouts of opportunism, inventive trickery’ .’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘But the reality is that those in charge of making the changes are too busy courting the corporations and wealthy individuals who benefit most from their anti-democratic sleights of hand.’
        • ‘This is a gang whose members are masters of subterfuge and sleight of hand, and they play for big money, jewels, banks and other high-security projects.’
        • ‘Deceit is not lying: it is more sleight of hand, or, if you prefer, the small con.’
        deception, deceit, dissimulation, double-dealing, chicanery, trickery, sharp practice, legerdemain
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Middle English sleghth ‘cunning, skill’, from Old Norse slœgth, from slœgr ‘sly’.