Sly (?), a. [Compar. Slier (?) or Slyer; superl. Sliest or Slyest.] [OE. sli, slegh, sleih, Icel slgr, for slgr; akin to Sw. slug, Dan. slu, LG. slou, G. schlau; probably to E. slay, v.t.; cf. G. verschlagen sly. See Slay, v. t., and cf. Sleight.]


Dexterous in performing an action, so as to escape notice; nimble; skillful; cautious; shrewd; knowing; -- in a good sense.

Be ye sly as serpents, and simple as doves. Wyclif (Matt. x. 16).

Whom graver age And long experience hath made wise and sly. Fairfax.


Artfully cunning; secretly mischievous; wily.

For my sly wiles and subtle craftiness, The litle of the kingdom I possess. Spenser.


Done with, and marked by, artful and dexterous secrecy; subtle; as, a sly trick.

Envy works in a sly and imperceptible manner. I. Watts.


Light or delicate; slight; thin.


By the sly, ∨ On the sly, in a sly or secret manner. [Colloq.] "Gazed on Hetty's charms by the sly." G. Eliot. -- Sly goose Zool., the common sheldrake; -- so named from its craftiness.

Syn. -- Cunning; crafty; subtile; wily. See Cunning.


© Webster 1913.

Sly, adv.


[Obs. or Poetic]



© Webster 1913.