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

Essential Meaning of clever

1 : intelligent and able to learn things quickly A few clever [=smart, bright] students have started a business recycling old computers. Some cats are clever enough to figure out how to operate doorknobs.
2 : showing intelligent thinking a clever design/invention That's the cleverest idea I've heard yet! She found a clever hiding place for the letter.
3 : funny in a way that shows intelligence I enjoyed the play's clever [=witty] dialogue.

Full 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 \ ˈkle-​v(ə-​)rish How to pronounce clever (audio) \ adjective
cleverly \ ˈkle-​vər-​lē How to pronounce clever (audio) \ adverb
cleverness \ ˈkle-​vər-​nəs How to pronounce clever (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Generally, Rich lets his clever and subtle guitar playing do his talking. Matt Wake |, al, 6 Sep. 2021 Like its excitable new detectives, the show is clever and gently weird enough to make an impression. Caroline Framke, Variety, 30 Aug. 2021 Falk, a biologist at the University of Washington, is deeply fond of the birds, who are gorgeous and clever and sassy. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 26 Aug. 2021 Patricia Lockwood at the University of Birmingham and colleagues designed a very clever new experiment, published in the journal Psychological Science in April, to ask the same question. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2021 Using a very clever loophole in the Senate’s arcane rules, Democrats can advance the spending plan with just 50 votes using a process Washington calls budget reconciliation. Tameem Akhgar, Time, 12 Aug. 2021 Having been in the business for years, though, Courteney Cox has found clever ways to avoid sitting around and twiddling her thumbs. Jolie Lash,, 11 Aug. 2021 Mexico's infamous Sinaloa Cartel and other criminal networks team with Chinese nationals to find clever ways to hide drug profits, a senior official with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says. The Courier-Journal, 1 July 2021 Bands found clever ways to merge their Western influences with Mandarin, the dominant tongue of mainland China. Stacey Anderson, Rolling Stone, 24 June 2021

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

Time Traveler for clever

Time Traveler

The first known use of clever was circa 1595

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near clever

Cleveland, Mount



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for clever

Last Updated

12 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for clever


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

More from Merriam-Webster on clever

Nglish: Translation of clever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clever for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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