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 The sequel is no less artful in alternating between sound and silence—long stretches could pass for a silent movie, as before. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 27 May 2021 While 90210 stands as the quintessence of Fox's '90s teen drama brand, another series on the network explored coming-of-age travails in a more artful way. Ew Staff,, 10 May 2021 The hitmaking duo brought color and sultriness to the stage, with planets and artful shapes dancing across the screen as the songstresses struck a pose in the foreground. Neena Rouhani, Billboard, 23 May 2021 But his new venture — Build My Burgers — promotes its product as though a canvas, rewarding its most creative guests with artful handhelds, stacking toppings to precipitous, Dagwoodsian levels. Amy Drew Thompson,, 20 May 2021 And sometimes a book just isn’t very good, and the film using it as a basis is able to tease art out of something that wasn’t especially artful to begin with. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 14 May 2021 Pride and Prejudice pays tribute to the pleasures of artful spite—but affirms the need to move past the pettiness of the Miss Bingleys of the world. Charlie Tyson, The Atlantic, 13 May 2021 The items are showcased through an imaginative campaign created by Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, who asked each brand to contribute an artful photo of its product. Steff Yotka, Vogue, 23 Sep. 2020 Award-winning interior designer Kelly Behun’s artful approach to design can now be enjoyed by everyone via her Living Gallery concept at new Upper East Side luxury residential building 1228 Madison Avenue. Emma Reynolds, Forbes, 12 May 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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Statistics for artful

Last Updated

8 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for artful

Nglish: Translation of artful for Spanish Speakers


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