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[svelt, sfelt] /svɛlt, sfɛlt/
adjective, svelter, sveltest.
slender, especially gracefully slender in figure; lithe.
suave; blandly urbane.
Origin of svelte
1810-20; < French < Italian svelto < Vulgar Latin *exvellitus pulled out (replacing Latin ēvulsus, past participle of ēvellere), equivalent to Latin ex- ex-1 + velli-, variant stem of vellere to pull, pluck + -tus past participle suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for svelte
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Belle, as we have seen, was tall and slender—“svelte” was the way she liked to put it.

  • I'd also like to meet the svelte one with store puffs and sorrel hair.

    The Gay Rebellion Robert W. Chambers
  • But she's right there with the svelte figure,176 the school girly flush, and the sparklin' eyes.

    Torchy As A Pa Sewell Ford
  • Tall, svelte, and as far as Jacques Dantin could see, she was young.

  • The woman reminds one of a red lizard—a salamander—her “svelte” body seemingly boneless in its gown of clinging scales.

    The Real Latin Quarter F. Berkeley Smith
British Dictionary definitions for svelte


/svɛlt; sfɛlt/
attractively or gracefully slim; slender
urbane or sophisticated
Word Origin
C19: from French, from Italian svelto, from svellere to pull out, from Latin ēvellere, from ex-1 + vellere to pull
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 svelte

"slender, lithe," c.1817, from French svelte "slim, slender," from Italian svelto "slim, slender," originally "pulled out, lengthened," from past participle of svellere "to pluck or root out," from Vulgar Latin *exvellere, from Latin ex- "out" (see ex-) + vellere "to pluck, stretch."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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