Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Because I’ve seen this error online no fewer than three times just this week, I’m going to write about it.
When you’re talking about a magician’s fancy handwork, it’s sleight of hand. NOT, so help me, slight of hand.
Slight works as an adjective, verb, and noun. And it in no way works in the phrase “sleight of hand.” Slight can mean being small or inconsiderable, or not strongly built. A light can be an insult, and a slight can be to insult.
Sleight is different. Sleight is a noun meaning “the use of dexterity or cunning.”
Again, this word confusion has to be chalked up to people hearing the phrase “sleight of hand,” but not seeing it in print. Slight is the more phonetic way to spell the word, so that’s the spelling that gets picked.
But it’s wrong.