canny

adjective
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

canny

adverb

Definition of canny (Entry 2 of 2)

Scotland
: in a canny manner : carefully

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from canny

Adjective

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

astute, clear-eyed, clear-sighted, hard-boiled, hardheaded, heady, knowing, savvy, sharp, sharp-witted, shrewd, smart

Antonyms: Adjective

unknowing

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Saslaw, a canny veteran of Capitol politics who is ardently pro-business and chummy with Republicans, hasn't faced a primary challenger in 40 years. CBS News, "Virginia holds primary election as political watchers look for 2020 trends," 11 June 2019 Vo is too canny and too much of an aesthete for that. David Salle, The New York Review of Books, "David Salle," 9 May 2019 But some canny creatures seem to have come back from the beyond. Caitlin Etherton, National Geographic, "See 8 animal species that came back from the dead," 1 Mar. 2019 Now, these partnerships are first and foremost a canny business move. Glamour, "At Long Last, Fashion Is Making Cool Merch for Fandoms," 19 Apr. 2019 Beyond that, the acquisition now looks particularly canny for one big reason: the Saks building on Fifth Avenue. Joshua Levine, WSJ, "Saks Doubles Down on Department Stores With New Restaurant in New York City," 15 Jan. 2019 So too with Alexander’s own actions and decisions, some wise and canny, others reckless and cruel. James Romm, WSJ, "‘Soldier, Priest, and God’ Review: The Emperor Divine," 13 Dec. 2018 But Haley’s policy approach was particularly canny. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "How Nikki Haley played the White House game — and won," 9 Oct. 2018 Cheeky, importunate and canny, Ms. Jordan’s voice is one of the great standard-bearing instruments of midcentury jazz. New York Times, "Pop, Rock and Jazz in NYC This Week," 8 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of canny

Adjective

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

1786, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for canny

Adjective

can entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about canny

Dictionary Entries near canny

cannula

cannular

cannulate

canny

canny moment

canoa

canoe

Statistics for canny

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for canny

The first known use of canny was in 1596

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for canny

canny

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of canny

: very clever and able to make intelligent decisions

canny

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on canny

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with canny

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for canny

Spanish Central: Translation of canny

Nglish: Translation of canny for Spanish Speakers

Comments on canny

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

WORD OF THE DAY

behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!