clev·​er | \ ˈkle-vər How to pronounce clever (audio) \

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

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Other Words from clever

cleverish \ ˈkle-​v(ə-​)rish How to pronounce cleverish (audio) \ adjective
cleverly \ ˈkle-​vər-​lē How to pronounce cleverly (audio) \ adverb
cleverness \ ˈkle-​vər-​nəs How to pronounce cleverness (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Sula Malina sculpted a personal ad for more than a month, fine-tuning the description to be simultaneously clever, accurate and less than 100 words. Anying Guo, Washington Post, "This Instagram account became wildly popular for its queer personal ads — and now it’s a dating app," 27 Dec. 2019 Christina is very clever, a good writer and brilliant at marketing. Ben Widdicombe, Town & Country, "Christina Oxenberg Is Related to Royalty and Hollywood Stars—And She Is Ready to Tell All Her Stories," 19 Dec. 2019 Tickets: $76-$20, available at 612-371-5656 or Capsule: Kling’s as clever as ever, but beware the lure of the comforting past. Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: Minnesota Orchestra’s ‘Home’ offers comfort and some joy," 15 Dec. 2019 After all, stores have been using clever, psychologically based marketing tactics for years. Cindy Dampier,, "Cyber Week shoppers are signing up, shame clicking and impulse buying like crazy — and dark pattern ploys are to blame. Here’s why scientists and lawmakers are looking to fix that," 6 Dec. 2019 Normal People by Sally Rooney Boy (handsome, charming, proudly working-class) meets girl (clever, brittle, and despite all her family money, friendless). David Canfield,, "The 10 best books of 2019," 5 Dec. 2019 Bad actors are using technology to steal from us in some of the most clever, infuriating ways. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "5 Impressive Ways Criminals Use Wireless Signals to Steal Everything—Even Your Car," 27 Nov. 2019 The duo moment was clever, timely, and, somehow, chic—all the makings of a stellar Halloween costume. Vogue, "Nina Dobrev Delivers a Halloween Costume Only True Fashion Fans Will Know," 28 Oct. 2019 The range will include outfits and ideas that will could be clever, quaint, creepy or gory, simple or elaborate or some mix of all the above. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Rodeo Cardi B, Texans stars, smoke plume among this year's Houston-themed Halloween costumes," 24 Oct. 2019

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for clever

Time Traveler

The first known use of clever was circa 1595

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Statistics for clever

Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clever.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for clever


How to pronounce clever (audio)

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 How to pronounce clever (audio) \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on clever

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clever

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with clever

Spanish Central: Translation of clever

Nglish: Translation of clever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clever for Arabic Speakers

Comments on clever

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