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 Despite Holzhauer putting together an impressive run in the second game of Tuesday’s match, Jennings earned the win with a combination of canny wagering, and knowing the correct answer. oregonlive, "‘Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time’ champ Ken Jennings on why the NW is fertile ground for trivia fans," 15 Jan. 2020 Then, in 2015, the Dodo made its canniest move to date. Emma Grey Ellis, Wired, "How The Dodo Became the Warmest, Fuzziest Corner of the Web," 25 Dec. 2019 This premise, at first blush, is nothing particularly new, though Mortimer visualizes Luke's descent into madness with a restless energy and canny knack for finding the right, creepiest angles to tell that story. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch (and Skip) in Theaters and on Amazon Prime This Weekend," 6 Dec. 2019 His performance is all the more effective for its restraint and canny underplaying. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Kill Team': Film Review," 23 Oct. 2019 The guards were defending and rebounding and dissecting the Sooners with violent drives and canny passes. Nick Moyle,, "Texas squanders lead against Oklahoma, falls into 0-2 hole in Big 12," 8 Jan. 2020 Even in these canny homages, the actuality of these women is somewhat hidden. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: ‘Focus Group’ takes a playful approach to life and death," 27 Dec. 2019 The second was to become more friendly to Wall Street, a factor usually attributed to Alphabet’s canny CFO Ruth Porat. Wired, "Larry, Sergey, and the Mixed Legacy of Google-Turned-Alphabet," 5 Dec. 2019 Last month the province’s canny Conservative premier, Jason Kenney, argued that separation would landlock Alberta’s oil. The Economist, "Alberta’s secession movement spells trouble for Justin Trudeau," 5 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for canny

Time Traveler

The first known use of canny was in 1596

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Statistics for canny

Last Updated

31 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Canny.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 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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