When something's done deftly, it's accomplished with style and skill. You'd be sure to impress your friends if you grabbed three grapefruits, juggled them deftly, and returned them to their bowl, all while carrying on a conversation.

A physical or athletic act can be done deftly, or easily and well, but deftly can also describe something done with cleverness or wit, like a musician writing song lyrics deftly. The Old English word gedæfte, which means "mild" or "gentle," is the root of the word deftly, whose meaning still has that sense of doing something both skillfully and gently, or effortlessly.

Definitions of deftly
  1. adverb
    in a deft manner
    “Lois deftly removed her scarf”
  2. adverb
    with dexterity; in a dexterous manner
    synonyms: dexterously, dextrously
Word Family