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deft (adj.)

"apt or dexterous, subtly clever or skillful," mid-15c., from Old English gedæfte, which meant "mild, gentle, simple, meek," but which splintered into different forms and senses in Middle English, yielding this word and also daft (q.v.). In Middle English it also could mean "well-mannered, gentle, modest, mild," and "dull, uncouth, boorish." Cognate with Gothic gadaban "to be fit," Old Norse dafna "to grow strong," Dutch deftig "important, relevant," from Proto-Germanic *dab-, which has no certain IE etymology and is perhaps a substratum word. Related: Deftness.

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