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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 deftness
  • Without the deftness to get full value from his material, he had still a sharp eye for what was picturesque or dramatic.
  • Of course, the effort to appoint a partner needs to be handled with deftness and sensitivity.
  • He was the one who breathed deftness and grace into the actors' kicks and jumps.
  • But he posed one too many challenges to his ability to pull off feats of daring and deftness.
  • The directors have transferred all the deftness and talent of their shorter films into an artful big screen realization.
  • The strings are slowly drawn together with extreme deftness.
British Dictionary definitions for deftness


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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for deftness



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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