Sly, adv. Slyly. [Obs. or
Sly (?), a. [Compar.
Slier (?) or Slyer; superl.
Sliest or Slyest.] [OE. sli, slegh,
sleih, Icel sl?gr, for sl?gr; akin to Sw.
slug, Dan. slu, LG. slou, G. schlau;
probably to E. slay, v.t.; cf. G. verschlagen sly. See
Slay, v. t., and cf. Sleight.]
1. Dexterous in performing an action, so as to
escape notice; nimble; skillful; cautious; shrewd; knowing; -- in a
Be ye sly as serpents, and simple as
doves. Wyclif (Matt. x. 16).
Whom graver age
And long experience hath made wise and sly.
2. Artfully cunning; secretly mischievous;
For my sly wiles and subtle craftiness, Spenser.
The litle of the kingdom I possess.
3. Done with, and marked by, artful and
dexterous secrecy; subtle; as, a sly trick.
Envy works in a sly and imperceptible
manner. I. Watts.
4. Light or delicate; slight; thin.
By the sly, or On the sly,
in a sly or secret manner. [Colloq.] "Gazed on Hetty's charms
by the sly." G. Eliot. -- Sly goose
(Zoöl.), the common sheldrake; -- so named from its
Syn. -- Cunning; crafty; subtile; wily. See