clev·​er | \ˈkle-vər \

Definition of clever 

1a : 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from clever

cleverish \ -​v(ə-​)rish \ adjective
cleverly \ -​vər-​lē \ adverb
cleverness \ -​vər-​nəs \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of clever in a Sentence

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 Singer, New Yorker, 29 Sept. 2003 … the three of them may give Gray Davis, who was too clever for his own good, his comeuppance. — Garrison Keillor, Time, 25 Aug. 2003 Some thought he had no redeeming value whatsoever. A sociopath. A clever manipulator … — Louise Erdrich, New Yorker, 2 Dec. 2002 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 Groening, Utne Reader, November/December 1987 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'Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge, 1967 Some cats are clever enough to figure out how to operate doorknobs. That's the cleverest idea I've heard yet! She found a clever hiding place for the letter.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But maybe not clever enough to be worth shelling out $25,000 for. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Ready to Pay $25,000 For a Digital Baseball Card?," 14 Aug. 2018 Meanwhile Mott, who started out in Hollywood working in the fabled William Morris Agency mailroom, nimbly choreographs all the updating, resulting in a breezy, cute-and-clever confection that’s tailor-made for a sultry midsummer’s night. Michael Rechtshaffen,, "Review: Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' charmingly recast in La La land," 12 July 2018 Everyone is good-looking and clever, and the characters are all screwed up and enjoyable in their own ways. Andrew Sharp,, "Kevin Durant Won't Leave the Warriors, But Maybe He Should," 8 June 2018 Barbara was a strong woman who was admired for being clever, witty and wise throughout her life., "Barbara Hambach," 5 June 2018 Those clever, either-hand drives are fine, but until Curry starts crushing people from long range, these aren’t the Warriors. Bruce Jenkins, San Francisco Chronicle, "Flawed Warriors will find solace at Oracle," 25 May 2018 Rachman’s narrative is rich with wordplay, clever dialogue and subtle insights. Don Oldenburg, USA TODAY, "'The Italian Teacher': Tom Rachman's portrait of an artist and his son is picture-perfect," 20 Mar. 2018 Fellowes’ script actually has a lot of clever dialogue in it. David Lyman,, "Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber kinda ruins 'School of Rock'," 22 Feb. 2018 And, of course, that distinctively fast, clever, edgy dialogue that has come to be known as Mamet Speak. Rick Kogan,, "David Mamet talks about his new book 'Chicago,' all about gangsters and Tribune reporters," 22 Feb. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of clever

circa 1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clever

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about clever

Statistics for clever

Last Updated

13 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for clever

The first known use of clever was circa 1595

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clever



English Language Learners Definition of clever

: intelligent and able to learn things quickly

: showing intelligent thinking

: funny in a way that shows intelligence


clev·​er | \ˈkle-vər \
cleverer; cleverest

Kids Definition of clever

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

Other Words from clever

cleverly adverb
cleverness noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on clever

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


full of whispering sounds

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Add Diction

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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