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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Star pastry chef Sasha Piligian is a master of the artful cake. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, "How L.A. cake virtuosos learned to thrive on Instagram," 17 Apr. 2021 The short-term result: A five-pitch strikeout that featured four different types of pitches and the portal to an artful outing to earn his first major league victory in the Rangers’ 5-1 win over Tampa Bay. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "How facing a familiar foe brought out the version of Kohei Arihara the Rangers were hoping for," 15 Apr. 2021 This 12,000-square-foot, three-story temple of tranquility — lavish without being glitzy — is done up in organic materials and artful Balinese imports. Anne Bratskeir, Travel + Leisure, "Celebrities Love This Ultra-secluded Costa Rican Estate — Here's How to Rent Your Own Villa," 10 Apr. 2021 There have been artful assemblages of the usual items, like cheese, meat and fruit, as well as plates topped with desserts and colorful candy. Lia Picard New York Times, Star Tribune, "'Barkuterie' boards are the latest indulgence for the pampered pooch," 9 Apr. 2021 With menus that change frequently, sometimes daily, the green o kitchen serves small, shareable plates, nourishing entrees and artful desserts. Roger Sands, Forbes, "Acclaimed Chefs Debuting At These Restaurants," 5 Apr. 2021 The MoMA show’s participants, using collages, whimsical contraptions, and artful cartography, lay claim to a tradition that has always compensated for the real world’s disappointments with limitless fantasy. Justin Davidson, Curbed, "MoMA’s First Show on Race and Architecture Chooses Lofty Ideas Over Pragmatism," 2 Apr. 2021 There have been artful assemblages of the usual items, like cheese, meat and fruit, as well as plates topped with desserts and colorful candy. New York Times, "Dogs Can Have a Little Charcuterie, as a Treat," 1 Apr. 2021 His play was solid and clean, artful and efficient, his hyper-tapping swift and precise. Jacob Sweet, The New Yorker, "The Revolution in Classic Tetris," 26 Mar. 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.

See More

First Known Use of artful

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for artful

art entry 1 + -ful entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about artful

Statistics for artful

Last Updated

21 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Artful.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on artful

What made you want to look up artful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!