clever

adjective

clev·​er ˈkle-vər How to pronounce clever (audio)
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
cleverish adjective
cleverly adverb
cleverness 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

Example Sentences

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 The performance capture that was set up in the tank was very clever. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 5 Jan. 2023 But Rice, as a spindly 140-something-pound new-to-the-game sophomore at Houston Fort Bend Marshall, was clever. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Jan. 2023 But Anna Fleischle’s set is clever, particularly the large panel that hangs overhead, appearing sometimes like a skylight, sometimes like a Mondrian. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, 20 Dec. 2022 Its name is clever, chosen because of the warm and sunny temperatures created by the scent’s keynotes. Dallas News, 30 Nov. 2022 Nolley was clever enough to take off with the ball toward the other end of the court, but officials stopped him and returned it to Ballo. Dave Clark, The Enquirer, 22 Nov. 2022 Who else is clever enough to make my Sandy Claws outfit? Ni'kesia Pannell, Woman's Day, 17 Oct. 2022 This movie is also clever in the way rom-coms of another generation were. Jason P. Frank, Vulture, 29 Sep. 2022 These chef and croquembouche costumes are too clever for words! Blair Donovan, Country Living, 20 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

circa 1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of clever was circa 1595

Dictionary Entries Near clever

Cite this Entry

“Clever.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clever. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

clever

adjective
clev·​er ˈklev-ər How to pronounce clever (audio)
1
: showing skill especially in using one's hands
clever fingers
2
: quick in learning
a clever pupil
3
: showing wit or imagination
a clever idea
cleverish adjective
cleverly adverb
cleverness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on clever

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