Svelte means slender. It's used to describe people, not things, and it implies a certain elegance. You might say that a middle-aged woman who had kept a svelte figure could still pass for a sixteen-year-old girl.

Svelte came to English from the French, back in the 19th century when the French had the last word on fashion, which probably accounts for its associations with elegance. It has nothing to do with the word sweltering, which means hot enough to make you sweat.

Definitions of svelte
  1. adjective
    being of delicate or slender build
    synonyms: slender, slight, slim
    lean, thin
    lacking excess flesh
  2. adjective
    moving and bending with ease
    synonyms: lissom, lissome, lithe, lithesome, slender, supple, sylphlike
    characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, or execution
  3. adjective
    showing a high degree of refinement and the assurance that comes from wide social experience
    synonyms: polished, refined, urbane
    having or appealing to those having worldly knowledge and refinement and savoir-faire
Word Family

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