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 Apparently unaware of, or unconcerned with, the advantages offered by the canny use of public diplomacy, coercive tactics have become a main feature of his Presidency. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "Mexico, Cuba, and Trump’s Increasing Preference for Punishment Over Diplomacy," 11 June 2019 While con artists can be clever, many can be foiled by knowledgeable— and equally canny—consumers., "Interactive quiz: Could you pass the PARCC standardized tests?," 27 Aug. 2019 At the National Eisteddfod, an annual festival of Welsh culture that took place outside Llanrwst earlier this month, canny businesses sold mugs, bumper stickers and cushions emblazoned with the slogan. The Economist, "An act of vandalism sparks more talk of independence in Wales," 22 Aug. 2019 Four goals in two games demonstrate not just his goal-scoring ability, but his canny skill in finding space and spinning away from defenders., "Norwich 3-1 Newcastle: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Pukki Hat-Trick Earns Canaries First Win," 17 Aug. 2019 Sure enough, the song was picked up by canny online influencers, as millions of people went on to don cowboy outfits and dance to the song on TikTok. Andrew R. Chow, Time, "'It Feels Like I’m Chosen to Do This.' Inside the Record-Breaking Rise of Lil Nas X," 15 Aug. 2019 And the homoerotic tension between Coriolanus and Aufidius, his canny nemesis, has a warping heat that charges and confuses both men. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: An Electrifying ‘Coriolanus,’ Addicted to War," 5 Aug. 2019 Lee has a canny way of weaving together all kinds of deeply of-the-moment concerns — about gender identity and racial prejudice and economic upheaval and even Internet shaming — and then upending expectations about how those ideas might play out. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Old Globe’s world-premiere work ‘What You Are’ is a deep dive into identity politics and more," 7 June 2019 Barraza's canny underplaying makes her homicidal character seem all the more chilling. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Coyote Lake': Film Review," 31 July 2019

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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Statistics for canny

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for canny

The first known use of canny was in 1596

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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

Comments on canny

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strength of mind

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