Dictionary

1cunning

adjective cun·ning \ˈkə-niŋ\

: getting what is wanted in a clever and often deceptive way

Full Definition of CUNNING

1
:  dexterous or crafty in the use of special resources (as skill or knowledge) or in attaining an end <a cunning plotter>
2
:  displaying keen insight <a cunning observation>
3
:  characterized by wiliness and trickery <cunning schemes>
4
:  prettily appealing :  cute <a cunning little kitten>
cun·ning·ly \-niŋ-lē\ adverb
cun·ning·ness noun

Examples of CUNNING

  1. She was cunning enough to fool me.
  2. <a cunning, underhanded plan to win the election by preying on people's fears and prejudices>
  3. … this cat has made his way into the Fitness Center for cunning reasons of his own and reveals himself only to certain privileged individuals. —Joyce Carol Oates, Harper's, June 2008

Origin of CUNNING

Middle English, from present participle of can know
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CUNNING

clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving. clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude <a person clever with horses>. adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties <an adroit negotiator>. cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating <a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects>. ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something <an ingenious software engineer>.

sly, cunning, crafty, wily, tricky, foxy, artful, slick mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means. sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods <a sly corporate raider>. cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing <the cunning fox avoided the trap>. crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method <a crafty lefthander>. wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering <the wily fugitive escaped the posse>. tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering <a tricky political operative>. foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing <a foxy publicity man planting stories>. artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness <elicited the information by artful questioning>. slick emphasizes smoothness and guile <slick operators selling time-sharing>.

Rhymes with CUNNING

2cunning

noun cun·ning \ˈkə-niŋ\

: cleverness or skill especially at tricking people in order to get something

Full Definition of CUNNING

1
obsolete
a :  knowledge, learning
b :  magic art
2
:  dexterous skill and subtlety (as in inventing, devising, or executing) <high-ribbed vault … with perfect cunning framed — William Wordsworth>
3
:  craft, slyness

Examples of CUNNING

  1. He may be a fraud, but you have to admire his cunning.
  2. <the cunning with which Tom Sawyer was able to get others to whitewash the fence for him>
  3. The writing is best in the play's later scenes, when More deploys his legal cunning to help him weasel out of a political trap set by the oleaginous Thomas Cromwell … —John Lahr, New Yorker, 20 Oct. 2008

Origin of CUNNING

(see 1cunning)
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of CUNNING

art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power <the art of choosing the right word>. skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency <the skill of a glassblower>. cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing <a mystery plotted with great cunning>. artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature <believed realism in film could be achieved only by artifice>. craft may imply expertness in workmanship <the craft of a master goldsmith>.

Rhymes with CUNNING

CUNNINGNESS Defined for Kids

1cunning

adjective cun·ning \ˈkə-niŋ\

Definition of CUNNING for Kids

1
:  skillful and clever at using special knowledge or at getting something done <a cunning craftsman>
2
:  showing craftiness and trickery <a cunning plot> <a cunning thief>

2cunning

noun

Definition of CUNNING for Kids

1
:  skill 1, dexterity <… they … felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning … — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit>
2
:  cleverness or skill especially at tricking people in order to get something <… she had been defeated by the superior cunning of the aged witch … — L. Frank Baum, The Marvelous Land of Oz>

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