1. 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)

2. Artfully cunning; secretly mischievous; wily. "For my sly wiles and subtle craftiness, The litle of the kingdom I possess." (Spenser)

3. Done with, and marked by, artful and dexterous secrecy; subtle; as, a sly trick. "Envy works in a sly and imperceptible manner." (I. Watts)

4. Light or delicate; slight; thin. By the sly, or On the sly, in a sly or secret manner. "Gazed on Hetty's charms by the sly." .

<zoology> Sly goose, the common sheldrake; so named from its craftiness.

Synonyms: Cunning, crafty, subtile, wily. See Cunning.

Origin: 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, and cf. Sleight.

(01 Mar 1998)

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