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

Other Words from artful

artfully \ ˈärt-​fə-​lē How to pronounce artful (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

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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 apparent simplicity of her slogans is no less artful than the popular poetry of Robert Frost or Billy Collins. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 This bluntness has its raw pleasures, even as the data-dump nature of the storytelling forecloses more artful possibilities. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 23 Dec. 2021 Combining natural materials with artful craftsmanship, their beds are true masterpieces and the utmost comfort. Samantha Rees, Vogue, 23 Dec. 2021 These artful arrangements give you the impression that someone’s grandmother assembled each one. Michelle Matthews |, al, 22 Dec. 2021 The picture is devoid of any artful composition or lighting. Los Angeles Times, 21 Dec. 2021 For whatever reason, I’ve been drawn to ellipsis and anecdote lately and become more impatient with artful transition. Willing Davidson, The New Yorker, 20 Dec. 2021 The ambiguous ending to last week’s episode was indeed something to be concerned about, and not just the artful homage to the drowned waiter. Scott Tobias, Vulture, 14 Dec. 2021 Pipe decorative swirls, drop artful dollops or spread on as a topping, and then watch as the clock starts ticking. Washington Post, 6 Dec. 2021

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

History and Etymology for artful

art entry 1 + -ful entry 1

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Dictionary Entries Near artful

art form


art glass

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Statistics for artful

Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Artful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for artful



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


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

More from Merriam-Webster on artful

Nglish: Translation of artful for Spanish Speakers


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