Edit This Grammar Lesson: Is It Sleight of Hand or Slight of Hand?
I've been writing and editing a ton of content lately. As a result, I'm bound to see the same mistakes pop up time and again. A perfect example is this phrase: Sleight of hand.
I'm sure you've heard this phrase used in everyday conversation, primarily when referring to magicians. But just because we say this phrase a lot and fully comprehend its meaning doesn't mean we always know how to write it out. In fact, most people don't realize they've been writing it down wrong (as slight of hand) their entire lives.
Follow along with me as I explain more in today's blog post.
Slight and Sleight Are Homophones!
Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Slight and Sleight are two common examples; others are by, buy, and bye, brake and break, coarse and course ... the list goes on and on, my friends. Homophones have always fascinated me, which is why they've largely been the focus of my Edit This Grammar Lesson blog posts over the years.
Plus, they seem to trip a lot of people up. So I'm here to help.
Slight generally refers to small, flimsy, insignificant, short, or trivial stuff. It can also be used to describe a snub or insult. A few examples include:
* He has a slight cold.
* The temperature outside dipped slightly below 100 degrees.
* I feel slighted by your comments.
Sleight, on the other hand, refers to craftiness, cleverness, or being quick-handed.
* John taught me the secret to his sleight of hand.
* That's some serious financial sleight of hand you've got going on there.
* It was a brilliant sleight of hand.
To summarize, never write slight of hand. It's simply wrong.
The correct usage is sleight of hand.
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STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This®, a writing and editing services company in Denton, TX. He is also the author of Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.