on the sly

Slang Dictionary

on the sly definition


  1. mod.
    secretly and deceptively. : She was stealing little bits of money on the sly.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
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Slang Dictionary

sly definition


  1. mod.
    excellent; cool. : That is really a sly jacket you got there.
Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions by Richard A. Spears.Fourth Edition.
Copyright 2007. Published by McGraw-Hill Education.
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on the sly

Furtively, secretly, as in She's always eating cookies on the sly. The adjective sly, which means "cunning" or "crafty," is here used as a noun. [c. 1800]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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