artful

adjective
art·​ful | \ ˈärt-fəl How to pronounce artful (audio) \

Definition of artful

1 : performed with or showing art or skill an artful performance on the violin
2a : using or characterized by art and skill : dexterous an artful prose stylist
b : adroit in attaining an end usually by insinuating or indirect means : wily an artful cross-examiner
3 : artificial trim walks and artful bowers— William Wordsworth

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Other Words from artful

artfully \ ˈärt-​fə-​lē How to pronounce artfully (audio) \ adverb
artfulness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for artful

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

Did You Know?

A writer may produce an artful piece of prose, one that's clearly and elegantly written. The same writer might also make an artful argument, one that cleverly leaves out certain details and plays up others so as to make a stronger case. In the first instance, the prose is well crafted; in the second, the argument might instead be called crafty. But even though both uses are correct, most of us still use artful somewhat differently from artistic.

Examples of artful in a Sentence

the artful lawyer got the witness to admit he had been lying that kitchen gadget is an artful tool for extracting cherry pits

Recent Examples on the Web

The speech is fine and obligatory, elevated to artful by the director of the special, Spike Jonze. Doreen St. Félix, The New Yorker, "The Productive Ambivalence of Aziz Ansari in His Comeback Netflix Special," 13 July 2019 Equal parts chilling and artful, this movie is both historically significant and deeply disturbing. Noel Murray, latimes.com, "New video: ‘High Life’ from director Claire Denis is both baffling and beguiling," 6 July 2019 The Eisner-winning cartoonist's starkly artful comic was one of the first vivid eyewitness accounts of the 2017 California wildfires, which left 44 people dead and displaced thousands. Michael Cavna, chicagotribune.com, "Memoir in pictures: Cartoonists on California fires, vagaries of adolescence, and immigrant life," 24 July 2019 The Eisner-winning cartoonist’s starkly artful comic was one of the first vivid eyewitness accounts of the 2017 California wildfires, which left 44 people dead and displaced thousands. Michael Cavna, Washington Post, "Four of the best graphic memoirs of the year — so far," 23 July 2019 Some of the other workers are real-life hotel employees, and Avilés’ way with blending the two is as artful as her minimalist yet smoothly determined direction. Robert Abele, latimes.com, "Review: Mexican drama ‘The Chambermaid’ brims with empathy and life," 3 July 2019 Here, Amber offers her tips for relaxed but artful entertaining. Laura Rysman, New York Times, "How to Host a Relaxed, Italian-Style Late Lunch," 27 June 2019 At the brasserie L’Impe, for example, the kitchen gives Nîmes’s sturdy signature dish, brandade de morue (salt cod and potatoes), a light, artful touch. Alexander Lobrano, WSJ, "The New Provence: From Quaint to Uber-Chic," 11 July 2019 Shots of coral, red, and turquoise add brightness while porthole windows, jigsaw puzzle tables, hanging chairs, and ship lights lend even more artful whimsy that’s fun for any age. Jennifer Blaise Kramer, House Beautiful, "This Home Is the Ultimate Island Getaway, No Matter Your Age," 28 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'artful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of artful

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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The first known use of artful was in 1583

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More Definitions for artful

artful

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of artful

: done with or showing artistic skill
: good at getting or achieving things in ways that are clever and not noticeable : used to get or achieve things in ways that are clever and not noticeable

artful

adjective
art·​ful | \ ˈärt-fəl How to pronounce artful (audio) \

Kids Definition of artful

1 : done with or showing art or skill artful writing
2 : clever at taking advantage an artful salesman

Other Words from artful

artfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on artful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for artful

Spanish Central: Translation of artful

Nglish: Translation of artful for Spanish Speakers

Comments on artful

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