(Modern English slight)


This adj. < PGmc *slixta- is common throughout Gmc (cp. Goth slaíhts 'smooth, even', OFris sliucht 'simple', OS sliht 'decorated, ornamented', OHG sleht 'smooth, mild'), but does not occur as a simplex in OE, while OIcel sléttr 'plain, flat, even, smooth, level' (< earlier ON *sleht-) is very common. That said, a native adj. *sliht 'even' can be plausibly reconstructed (as e.g. AEW) on the basis of an adv. eorðslihtes (adv.) 'close to the ground'. The sense 'slender' (MED and OED sense 2) is rare in ME.

PGmc Ancestor


Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)

sléttr 'plain, flat, even, smooth, level'
(ONP sléttr (adj.))

Other Scandinavian Reflexes

Far slættur, Icel sléttur, Norw slett, ODan slæt, Dan slet, Sw slät, Sw dial sljett

OE Cognate

cp. eorðslihtes (adv.) 'close to the ground'

Phonological and morphological markers

Summary category



Relatively infrequent in ME, and attested mainly from N/EM texts (though more widespread in MED's surname material).

Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus

Pe 190


MED slight (adj.) , OED slight (adj. and adv.) , HTOED , de Vries sléttr, Mag. sléttr, Orel *slixtaz, Heid. slihta-, AEW sliht