- slight (adj.)
- early 14c., "flat, smooth; hairless," from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse slettr "smooth, sleek," from Proto-Germanic *slikhtaz (cf. Old Saxon slicht; Low German slicht "smooth, plain common;" Old English -sliht "level," attested in eorðslihtes "level with the ground;" Old Frisian sliucht, Middle Dutch sleht, Old High German sleht, Gothic slaihts "smooth"), probably from a collateral form of PIE root *sleig- "to smooth, glide."
Sense evolution is from "smooth" (c.1300), to "trifling, inferior" (early 14c.), to "slender, weak; of poor quality, flimsy" (late 14c.). Sense of German cognate schlecht developed from "smooth, plain, simple" to "bad," and as it did it was replaced in the original senses by schlicht, a back-formation from schlichten "to smooth, to plane," a derivative of schlecht in the old sense.
- slight (v.)
- "treat with indifference," 1590s, from slight (adj.) in sense of "having little worth." Related: Slighted; slighting.