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 There are a lot of misconceptions around this one, thanks to clever and misleading marketing jargon. Erin Parker, Glamour, "The Best Bed Sheets for a Ridiculously Good Night’s Sleep," 12 Mar. 2020 Pool, who grew up on a farm and has worked for Swifty Swine for four years, said pigs generally are very clever and intelligent animals. Peggy O’hare,, "Swifty Swine pig races delight crowds at San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo," 13 Feb. 2020 Bright and extroverted—for a fish Csilla Ari, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of South Florida, says the findings mesh well with her own research, which has suggested the fish are clever, interacting with their reflections in mirrors. Jake Buehler, National Geographic, "Manta rays form close friendships, shattering misconceptions," 27 Aug. 2019 Whannell concocts these schemes with clever attentiveness to the role of current technology; cell phones, laptop computers, passwords, and security devices all play crucial and natural roles in the action. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“The Invisible Man,” Reviewed: A Horror Film of Diabolical Twists and Empty Showmanship," 27 Feb. 2020 Though the falsehoods stand out now, the Russians were clever in the months before the election, mixing in numerous stories from legitimate local news sources, says New York University’s Tucker. Darrel Rowland, USA Today, "You're going to face a tsunami of disinformation again this election cycle, experts warn," 24 Feb. 2020 After all, both of those sayings are so popular that the writers might just be seizing the opportunity for some clever word play. Erin Cavoto, Country Living, "'The Masked Singer' Fans Are Convinced the Taco Is 'Last Man Standing' Star Tim Allen," 23 Feb. 2020 Selling mattresses is not a technology business, but Casper was clever. Alison Griswold, Quartz, "When did selling mattresses become a tech business?," 9 Feb. 2020 Aside from the clever caption and cute photo, [F][d]ans weren't given much more information about the Bear's identity. Leah Rocketto, Woman's Day, "Who Is The Bear On 'The Masked Singer'? Fans Are Obsessed With Her Look," 3 Feb. 2020

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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Last Updated

19 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 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

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