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 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

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 Master the artful roux with an assist from these tips. Colleen Mcmillar, Better Homes & Gardens, "4 Secrets to Making an Authentic Louisiana Dark Roux According to Louisiana Cooks," 30 Dec. 2020 Now the impromptu orchestral and choral performances that turn up on sidewalks and stoops bring tearful joy — a gratitude for all the creativity and artful innovation that animates New York. New York Times, "8 Things We Hated About New York Until 2020 Happened," 25 Dec. 2020 According to those who worked with him and knew him best, Slim knew his place as a documentarian, a chronicler—albeit, at times, one skilled in artful interventions. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "‘She Was Freezing and Mad’: The Story Behind This Famous Slim Aarons Christmas Photo," 23 Dec. 2020 That means the field of study of these materials is pretty new, and there’s a lot of room for artful improvements that will drastically increase efficiency. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "This Solar Cell Just Set an Astounding Efficiency Record," 21 Dec. 2020 The character designs are expressionistic, rendered with artful sketchiness or geometric rigidity, according to the figures’ proximity to nature or to political power. Mark O’connell, The New Yorker, "Cartoon Saloon and the New Golden Age of Animation," 11 Dec. 2020 The end result is an artful balance of festive heft and fireplace intimacy. Star Tribune, "Twin Cities lounge trio New Standards deliver a joyously jazzy 'Holiday Show' album," 10 Dec. 2020 This is a formal experiment gone very right, an artful mixing of the intimate and universal and a timeless story about female (dis)satisfaction. Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times, "10 great books that got lost in the noise of 2020," 10 Dec. 2020 That freed us up to take certain liberties to make the show feel very contemporary in an artful way. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "All-out war breaks out in San Francisco’s Chinatown in Warrior S2 finale," 4 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for artful

Time Traveler

The first known use of artful was in 1583

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Statistics for artful

Last Updated

15 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for artful


How to pronounce artful (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for artful

Nglish: Translation of artful for Spanish Speakers

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