can·​ny | \ ˈka-nē How to pronounce canny (audio) \
cannier; canniest

Definition of canny

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : clever, shrewd a canny lawyer also : prudent canny investments
2 chiefly Scotland
b : quiet, snug then canny, in some cozy place, they close the day— Robert Burns



Definition of canny (Entry 2 of 2)

: in a canny manner : carefully

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Other Words from canny


cannily \ ˈka-​nə-​lē How to pronounce cannily (audio) \ adverb
canniness \ ˈka-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce canniness (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for canny

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of canny in a Sentence

Adjective a canny card player, good at psyching out his opponents warm and canny under the woolen bedcovers, we didn't mind the chilly Scottish nights
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The first iteration of Putinism was from 2000 to 2008, when political stability combined with high oil prices and canny economic policies led to rapid growth and rising popular living standards. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, "Putin set to get his new constitution. But Russians ask, ‘Why now?’," 30 June 2020 That is exactly why canny M&A is so valuable in a downturn. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "Coming out of a crisis, the boldest companies win," 25 June 2020 Diplo's canny rework adds breakbeats and rhythms nicked from 2-step garage to Lil Nas X's moseying, giving it a different kind of dance-floor life. Maura Johnston,, "Snake Oil, Diplo's take on country music, is a bummer: Review," 28 May 2020 Their campaigns, along with the political parties and outside groups, with help from canny consultants who know how to take advantage of court rulings and new technologies, are likely to break previous spending records. 1. Bill Allison,, "The Staggering Dollar Figures Fueling Campaign 2020," 5 May 2020 China’s vast, cheap labor pool and canny government incentives have fostered an extensive ecosystem of manufacturers, suppliers, and workers that is the default place to make everything from disposable face masks to $1,000 smartphones. Tom Simonite, Wired, "How Decades of Offshoring Led to a Mask Shortage in a Pandemic," 29 Mar. 2020 This is canny, passionate filmmaking, a reminder of the power of two-dimensional animation. Teo Bugbee, New York Times, "‘My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising’ Review: Superpowers Served Sweetly," 25 Feb. 2020 Each of them deserved an Oscar, not only for their canny and committed performances, but for acting the least bit shocked when their big moments came. Washington Post, "‘Parasite’ upset means progress. But is it a revolution?," 10 Feb. 2020 Some canny operators even found ways to profit from sanctions. The Economist, "Trapped in Iran," 28 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'canny.' 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 canny


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1786, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for canny


can entry 1

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Time Traveler for canny

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The first known use of canny was in 1596

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Statistics for canny

Last Updated

11 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Canny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for canny


How to pronounce canny (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of canny

: very clever and able to make intelligent decisions


can·​ny | \ ˈka-nē How to pronounce canny (audio) \
cannier; canniest

Kids Definition of canny

: clever especially in taking advantage of opportunities : shrewd a canny decision canny shoppers

Other Words from canny

cannily \ ˈka-​nə-​lē \ adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on canny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with canny

Spanish Central: Translation of canny

Nglish: Translation of canny for Spanish Speakers

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