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 His canny choice of running mate also united the Marcos political machinery with that of the country’s other leading dynasty. Time, 10 May 2022 Both advocates of crypto and canny investing, Money Man and EMPIRE CEO Ghazi Shami agreed that this play would revolutionize how artists worldwide receive their earnings, and play a pivotal role in Empire’s expansion into blockchain integration. Carl Lamarre, Billboard, 9 May 2022 The arrangements were simple but canny, and well designed to complement the band leader’s remarkable voice, which is as complex as her Turkish, Irish and Afro-Caribbean heritage. Washington Post, 4 May 2022 Chief Justice Roberts is witty, canny and controlled. Adam Liptak, New York Times, 4 May 2022 Indeed, Lazar’s delay in explaining the title proves canny, heightening the tension that percolates beneath his evasions and digressions. John Domini, Los Angeles Times, 27 Apr. 2022 The court’s precedents in this area all point toward legislature supremacy but leave the door cracked enough for canny litigants, abetted by state judges, to shove it open and seize electoral advantage. David B. Rivkin Jr. And Andrew M. Grossman, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2022 Looking back at these images, what becomes clear is Bourouissa’s canny knowledge that the people living at the margins were inscribed in a larger global dialogue, that the figures deemed peripheral were forming centers of their own. The New Yorker, 23 Apr. 2022 With her canny ability to work the tabloids to her advantage (pre-divorce, at least), both socially and financially, Margaret became one of the most glamorous socialites of her era. Leena Kim, Town & Country, 22 Apr. 2022 See More

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


originally Scots & regional northern English, going back to early Scots, "free from risk, sagacious, prudent, cautious," probably from can "ability" (noun derivative of can can entry 1) + -y -y entry 1

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Dictionary Entries Near canny



canny moment

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Canny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for canny


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

Nglish: Translation of canny for Spanish Speakers


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