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Definition of 'sly'

Cunning, crafty, or deceitful in a subtle or sneaky manner.
"His sly remark revealed his true intentions behind the seemingly innocent conversation."

Detailed Meaning of 'sly'

It suggests a cleverness or shrewdness used to achieve personal gain or manipulate situations without drawing attention or arousing suspicion. A person described as sly is often skilled at concealing their true intentions or motives, using their intelligence and wit to achieve their goals. Their actions are marked by a calculated and strategic approach, often involving trickery or manipulation to outsmart others. Sly behavior can range from harmless mischief to more malicious and duplicitous actions. It is important to be cautious of individuals who exhibit sly tendencies, as they may have ulterior motives or be prone to dishonesty in their interactions.


Examples of 'sly' in a Sentence

1. He gave me a sly grin, hinting at his mischievous plan.
2. The sly fox stealthily stalked its prey through the underbrush.
3. Her sly remark revealed her hidden agenda.
4. The cat's sly movements allowed it to pounce on the unsuspecting mouse.
5. He used his sly charm to manipulate others into doing his bidding.
6. The detective noticed the suspect's sly demeanor during questioning.

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Origins & Etymology of 'sly'

The adjective 'sly' has its etymological origins in the Old English word 'sly,' which meant wise or prudent. This Old English term evolved from the Proto-Germanic word 'sleuwis,' which conveyed the sense of intelligence or cleverness. Over time, the meaning of 'sly' underwent a transformation, acquiring connotations of cunning, craftiness, or deceitfulness, particularly in a subtle or sneaky manner. This shift in meaning reflects the idea that someone who is wise and clever can also be adept at using their intelligence for less-than-honest purposes. Thus, the word 'sly' today denotes a person or action characterized by a hidden or deceptive cleverness, capturing the essence of cunning and subtlety in one's approach.

How to pronounce sly (audio)


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