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

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 Vin Scully, the eloquent and beloved voice of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles who elevated baseball broadcasting to artful storytelling over nearly seven decades, died on Tuesday at the age of 94, the team announced. Bruce Orwall, WSJ, 3 Aug. 2022 Composed of CeeLo Green, Big Gipp, T-Mo and Khujo, Goodie Mob made artful, funky social-commentary. Matt Wake |, al, 2 Aug. 2022 Nearly every scene is punctuated with long, artful closeups of vegetables being chopped, chocolate ganache being painstakingly poured over a cake, containers full of beef being lugged around the kitchen, stainless steel being lovingly wiped. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 All that is required is a creative idea, an artful solution and time. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 29 July 2022 Vintage meets modern in this cozy SoHo loft, where designer Nicholas Obeid brings in scale-taming furnishings and artful layers. Rachel Silva, ELLE Decor, 28 July 2022 Within an all-white room, the farm’s catering team had arranged an artful display of desserts. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, 26 July 2022 Her get-up consisted of a white shirt that buttoned diagonally and left artful cutouts across the body, a cream handbag, and the most slacker-chic beloved sandal of all, the Birkenstock. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 13 July 2022 Designers like Fendi and Prada took to their leather offerings this season with graffiti, embroidery, and other artful touches that bring a museum quality to your bag. ELLE, 13 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of artful

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for artful

art entry 1 + -ful entry 1

Learn More About artful

Dictionary Entries Near artful

art form


art glass

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for artful

Last Updated

7 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for artful


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


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!