artful

play
adjective art·ful \ ˈärt-fəl \

Definition of artful

1 :performed with or showing art or skill
  • an artful performance on the violin
2 a :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

artfully

play \-fə-lē\ adverb

artfulness

noun

Examples of artful in a Sentence

  1. the artful lawyer got the witness to admit he had been lying

  2. that kitchen gadget is an artful tool for extracting cherry pits

Recent Examples of artful from the Web

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.

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.

First Known Use of artful

1583

Synonym Discussion of 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

ARTFUL Defined for English Language Learners

artful

play
adjective

Definition of artful for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

artful

play
adjective art·ful \ ˈärt-fəl \

Definition of artful for Students

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

artfully

\-fə-lē\ adverb


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