Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Usage tip: sleight vs. slight

Today's tip comes to you courtesy of Tetley tea, who puts short quips on the paper tabs of their teabags. One I got today said "False friends give slight-of-handshakes."

Clever idea, but wrong word.

Slight means small, diminutive, thin, etc. Sleight means cunning, skill, or dexterity. So, false friends actually give sleight-of-handshakes.

CORRECT:
The magician used sleight-of-hand to hide the ball under the table.
We need to take a slight detour to avoid the construction.

INCORRECT:
Don't try to fool me with slight of hand!
At the next intersection, take a sleight right.

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