adjective clev·er \ ˈkle-vər \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of clever

1 a : skillful or adroit in using the hands or body : nimble
  • clever fingers
b : mentally quick and resourceful
  • a clever young lawyer
2 : marked by wit or ingenuity
  • a clever solution
  • a clever idea
  • the play's clever dialogue
3 dialect
a : good
b : easy to use or handle


play \-v(ə-)rish\ adjective


play \-vər-lē\ adverb


play \-vər-nəs\ noun

Examples of clever in a Sentence

  1. All of Laptsev went to stare at the bride-to-be—she was no beauty, but everyone could see that she was clever, sophisticated … —Isaac Bashevis SingerNew Yorker29 Sept. 2003
  2. … the three of them may give Gray Davis, who was too clever for his own good, his comeuppance. —Garrison KeillorTime25 Aug. 2003
  3. Some thought he had no redeeming value whatsoever. A sociopath. A clever manipulator … —Louise ErdrichNew Yorker2 Dec. 2002
  4. Those who can't write poetry, write clever letters to the editor. Those who can't write clever letters to the editor, write angry letters to the editor. —Matt GroeningUtne ReaderNovember/December 1987
  5. The old lady was clever enough and he thought that if she had started from any of the right premises, more might have been expected of her. —Flannery O'ConnorEverything That Rises Must Converge1967
  6. Some cats are clever enough to figure out how to operate doorknobs.

  7. That's the cleverest idea I've heard yet!

  8. She found a clever hiding place for the letter.

Recent Examples of clever from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clever.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of clever

Middle English cliver, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish dialect kløver alert, skillful

clever Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of clever

clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving. clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude.
    • a person clever with horses
adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties.
    • an adroit negotiator
cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating.
    • a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects
ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something.
    • an ingenious software engineer

synonyms see in addition intelligent

CLEVER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of clever for English Language Learners

  • : intelligent and able to learn things quickly

  • : showing intelligent thinking

  • : funny in a way that shows intelligence

CLEVER Defined for Kids


adjective clev·er \ ˈkle-vər \

Definition of clever for Students

cleverer; cleverest
1 : having a quick inventive mind
  • a clever designer
2 : showing intelligence, wit, or imagination
  • a clever joke
  • a clever idea
3 : showing skill in using the hands
  • He was very strong and clever with his knife …
  • —Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden





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very hard to disturb or upset

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