Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Quick and skillful; adroit. See Synonyms at dexterous.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Quick and neat in action; skillful

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Apt; fit; spruce; neat.
  • adj. dexterous; clever; handy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Simple; meek; modest.
  • Apt or dexterous; neat in action or performance; subtly clever or skilful.
  • Neat; spruce; trim.
  • Foolish; daft. See daft.
  • An abbreviation of defendant.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. skillful in physical movements; especially of the hands

Etymologies

Middle English, gentle, humble, variant of dafte, foolish; see daft.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English defte, daft ("gentle"), from Old English gedæfte, from common Proto-Germanic *gadafta-, derived from *dab- ("be suitable"), from Proto-Indo-European *dhabh- (“fitting, fit together”). Near cognates include Gothic 𐌲𐌰𐌳𐍉𐍆𐍃 (gadōfs, "suitable"). Further cognates include Russian добро (dobro, "good") and Latin faber ("craftsman; skillful"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • It referred to a deft turn of hand that transferred bad assets, or repainted them to make the books of the owner of said troubled assets look better.

    Olympus Admits to Hiding Losses

  • Later comes a young greenkeeper carrying a very long, supple, tawny cane: he swishes it all over the circle of dewy grass in deft half-moons, sending up a shower of diamondy drops at every stroke.

    Try Anything Twice

  • Take Secretary Baker’s jawboning of the dollar since the Plaza Agreement of 1985, which he describes as the deft execution of bad policy.

    Economic Principals

  • For one middle-class gentlewoman who understands anything about cookery, or who really cares for it as a scientific art or domestic necessity, there are ten thousand who do not; yet our mothers and grandmothers were not ashamed to be known as deft professors, and homes were happier in proportion to the respect paid to the stewpan and the stockpot.

    Modern Women and What is Said of Them A Reprint of A Series of Articles in the Saturday Review (1868)

  • Khuzami was known as a deft manager while head of the white-collar unit in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the S.uthern District of New York.

    Redskins Insider Podcast -- The Washington Post

  • And these illustrations and characterizing* of the forms and essences of things are called deft - nit ioivs.

    Cicero's Five Books De Finibus: Or, Concerning the Last Object of Desire and Aversion

  • If you are going to be "deft," it's best not to reveal your sleaziness.

    Morning Bits

  • Their tales reveal the kind of deft maneuvering we'll all be asked to make in the new world of work.

    Your Next Job

  • And it really has been, I think, an extraordinarily kind of deft management, not only of the operation of the war, but the politics of it back home.

    CNN Transcript Dec 22, 2001

  • And, depending, we could see this move termed as another "deft" move accompanied by dutiful rationalizations.

    Progressive Bloggers

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.