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[deft] /dɛft/
adjective, defter, deftest.
dexterous; nimble; skillful; clever:
deft hands; a deft mechanic.
Origin of deft
1175-1225; Middle English; variant of daft
Related forms
deftly, adverb
deftness, noun
undeft, adjective
See dexterous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for deft
  • But as long as the deft bird-catcher has other choices, he is probably clever enough to limit the violence.
  • The natural look of the landscape conceals deft craftsmanship.
  • He swiftly explained the tactical situation with deft scribbles on the plastic overlay covering a large topographical map.
  • It features deft directing, stellar acting and breathtaking scenery.
  • It would also require the deft touch of a skillful craftsman.
  • His opening press conference is a deft, smooth performance.
  • You'll find it sheer fascination to watch a block of wood take shape under the deft manipulation of a lathe chisel.
  • The story, unfurling mainly in flashback, is a deft depiction of wartime Rome.
  • Given his intelligence, ambition and deft handling of the media, the general is talked of as a possible future president.
  • The repair to realign the switch is pretty simple, but definitely requires a deft touch.
British Dictionary definitions for deft


quick and neat in movement; nimble; dexterous
Derived Forms
deftly, adverb
deftness, noun
Word Origin
C13 (in the sense: gentle): see daft
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for deft

Old English gedæfte "mild, gentle," differentiated in Middle English into daft (q.v.) and this word, via sense of "apt, skillful, adept." Cognate with Gothic gadaban "to be fit," Old Norse dafna "to grow strong," Dutch deftig "important, relevant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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