On the sly
Sly 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 good sense. [1913 Webster]

Be ye sly as serpents, and simple as doves. --Wyclif (Matt. x. 16). [1913 Webster]

Whom graver age And long experience hath made wise and sly. --Fairfax. [1913 Webster]

2. Artfully cunning; secretly mischievous; wily. [1913 Webster]

For my sly wiles and subtle craftiness, The litle of the kingdom I possess. --Spenser. [1913 Webster]

3. Done with, and marked by, artful and dexterous secrecy; subtle; as, a sly trick. [1913 Webster]

Envy works in a sly and imperceptible manner. --I. Watts. [1913 Webster]

4. Light or delicate; slight; thin. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

{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} (Zo["o]l.), the common sheldrake; -- so named from its craftiness. [1913 Webster]

Syn: Cunning; crafty; subtile; wily. See {Cunning}. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Synonyms:

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  • on the sly — {adv. phr.} So that other people won t know; secretly. * /The boys smoked on the sly./ * /Mary s mother did not approve of lipstick, but Mary used it on the sly./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • on the sly — {adv. phr.} So that other people won t know; secretly. * /The boys smoked on the sly./ * /Mary s mother did not approve of lipstick, but Mary used it on the sly./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • on the sly — If someone does something on the sly, they do it furtively or secretly …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • on the sly — ► on the sly in a surreptitious fashion. Main Entry: ↑sly …   English terms dictionary

  • on the sly — adverb in a furtive manner the soldiers were furtively crawling through the night • Syn: ↑furtively • Derived from adjective: ↑furtive (for: ↑furtively) * * * IN SECRET, secretly, furtively, surreptitiously, covertly, clandestinely, on the quiet …   Useful english dictionary

  • on the sly —    If someone does something on the sly, they do it furtively or secretly.   (Dorking School Dictionary)    ***    If you do something on the sly, you do it secretly or furtively.     He made such quick progress that the others suspected him of… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • on\ the\ sly — adv. phr. So that other people won t know; secretly. The boys smoked on the sly. Mary s mother did not approve of lipstick, but Mary used it on the sly …   Словарь американских идиом

  • on the sly — mod. secretly and deceptively. □ She was stealing little bits of money on the sly. □ Martin was having an affair with the maid on the sly …   Dictionary of American slang and colloquial expressions

  • on the sly — he s dating Peggy on the sly Syn: in secret, secretly, furtively, surreptitiously, covertly, clandestinely, on the quiet, behind someone s back; informal on the QT …   Thesaurus of popular words

  • on the sly — informal done secretly, especially because you know you should not be doing it I m supposed to be on a diet, but I still have the odd bar of chocolate on the sly …   English dictionary

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