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
a : careful, steady also : restrained
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 canny (audio) \ adverb
canniness \ ˈka-​nē-​nəs How to pronounce canny (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 thieves likely succeeded due to canny planning, luck and lax security. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "What to Know About the Gardner Museum Heist," 10 Apr. 2021 Godzilla from May 21 to March 31 turned out to be a canny one. Scott Mendelson, Forbes, "5 Reasons ‘Godzilla Vs. Kong’ Smashed Pandemic-Era Box Office Records," 6 Apr. 2021 Gargantia has everything: action, environmental subtext, a talking robot, and several canny plot twists. Eric Vilas-boas, Vulture, "The 50 Best Anime Series on Netflix Right Now," 5 Apr. 2021 The demanding, agonizing sequence of Stephanie giving birth evokes Stephanie’s terror of being found out, making piercingly canny use of the tiny gap beside the door of the bathroom stall. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Stream “Stephanie Daley,” a Bold and Insightful Film About Teen Pregnancy," 26 Mar. 2021 Word spread of the Aboriginal team's success, partly thanks to canny marketing by Hayman who, according to Mulvaney and Harcourt, sent photographs of the Indigenous team in their uniforms to his cricketing contacts in Melbourne. Ben Westcott, CNN, "Australia's first international cricket team found fame in the UK. At home, they were betrayed," 4 Apr. 2021 That sustainability in the short-term at least also will require some canny adaptation. Peter Lane Taylor, Forbes, "The Future Of Travel, Summer Vacations, And Biden BBQs Isn’t Nearly As Bad As You Think," 17 Mar. 2021 This is remix as canny chart strategy, but far more often, these partnerships are fleeting, destined for the post-TikTok-virality remix dustbin. New York Times, "How Do Pop Stars Come to TikTok? Hat in Hand, Grasping at Buzz," 17 Feb. 2021 Other portrayals of nature are rendered fantastic partly by the canny use of color. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Artists sport their chops with prints on the cutting edge," 19 Mar. 2021

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

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Canny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for canny



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

More from Merriam-Webster on canny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canny

Nglish: Translation of canny for Spanish Speakers

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