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sav·​vy ˈsa-vē How to pronounce savvy (audio)
savvier; savviest
: having or showing perception, comprehension, or shrewdness especially in practical matters
savvily adverb
savviness noun


2 of 3


: practical know-how
political savvy


3 of 3


savvied; savvying

Did you know?

While the noun savvy, meaning "practical know-how" (as in "her political savvy"), and the adjective use (as in "a savvy investor") are more common, the verb savvy is the oldest of the trio. (If you associate it with Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, you'll be pleased to know his use—as in, "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?"—is not anachronistic; the verb was the only savvy option extant in the movies' early 18th-century setting.) Current evidence dates the verb savvy to the late 17th century, when English speakers altered a word—sabi, meaning "know"—they were hearing in English-based creoles and pidgins (a pidgin is a simplified language or dialect that speakers of different languages use to communicate with one another; a creole is a language that evolves from a pidgin to become a native language for a speech community). Sabi has its roots in Portuguese sabe, meaning "he knows," and it ultimately comes from Latin sapere, meaning "to be wise."

Example Sentences

Adjective She's a very savvy investor. He is savvy about computers. Noun she's an excellent scholar of political science, but lacks the kind of savvy needed to run for public office Verb the man growled, “Don't ever date my daughter again—you savvy?”
Recent Examples on the Web
Another tentacle of anti-Blackness is the presumption that young Black kids don’t possess the mental acuity to be savvy enough to recognize when peers are overtly anti-Black. Damon Young, Washington Post, 21 Nov. 2022 The speedster in the slot is supposed to create mismatches against linebackers and be savvy enough to out-leverage a nickel or slot corner, but had one catch for nine yards. Tony Garcia, Detroit Free Press, 20 Nov. 2022 Despite their ongoing battle of wills, the president was savvy enough to capitalize on his daughter’s popularity. Francine Uenuma, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Nov. 2022 Yet if the curatorial framing is savvy enough, there is much to gain from looking again. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 26 Oct. 2022 Top players à la Rhimes and Murphy are savvy enough to command money upfront through high fees and generous overhead and development funds. Cynthia Littleton, Variety, 21 July 2022 According to Ambassador Shapiro, whatever the personal preference of the American president in terms of the identity of the Israeli premier, Mr. Biden is savvy enough to avoid getting entangled in domestic Israeli politics. Neri Zilber, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 July 2022 There is an extra tax bonus for low-income workers who are savvy enough to make Roth IRA contributions. David Rae, Forbes, 12 July 2022 And, of course, offered an opening for someone savvy enough to spot that helping folks trapped in such situations could be a viable business. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 4 June 2022
Pelosi quickly became a power player among Democrats, known primarily for her fundraising savvy. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, 18 Nov. 2022 The Georgia governor’s resounding victory over Stacey Abrams — and Donald Trump — confirms his political savvy. National Review, 9 Nov. 2022 Below, a panel of Forbes Technology Council members explore 15 common tech buzzwords that are frequently misused and misunderstood by the non-tech-savvy, and what these terms actually mean. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 7 June 2022 Congress, not known for its technical savvy, devised a clever solution. Hiawatha Bray,, 5 Oct. 2022 Her digital-media savvy may have overshadowed her music, which is masterfully catchy. Carrie Battan, The New Yorker, 3 Oct. 2022 Explorers like Tomás Rogers and Agustín del Castillo turned to the wise Zamora for his Patagonian savvy. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 30 June 2022 Someone who had enough savvy to campaign in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that Trump won — but that Democrat Barack Obama carried four years earlier and Democrat Joe Biden also did in 2020. Los Angeles Times, 27 June 2022 That he's somehow managed to retain an air of mystery through all this — even as phalanxes of journalists and social media sleuths have attempted to dive into every aspect of his life — is a testament to not just his charm, but his modern-day savvy. Maura Johnston,, 16 May 2022
Our annual guide to savvy gift-giving for discerning readers of all ages, interests and attention spans, selected by The Wall Street Journal’s reviewers. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 Choose according to your gardener, and know these sturdy, attractive hats will elevate any newbie’s status to savvy gardener. Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2022 More than ever, the music-media ecosystem is driven by gossip and feuds, which savvy figures such as Drake manipulate with lyrical barbs that double as SEO keywords. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 9 Nov. 2022 Zooming out, Fisher believes that this pivot to a lower-emission business model is a physical transformation that will rival the digital transformation of the 2010s, and provide the same kind of upside to savvy companies. Jeff Wilser, Time, 13 Oct. 2022 For the owners and organizations savvy enough to recognize it, that is. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, 18 Sep. 2022 Katzenberg has retained most of the eatery’s longtime staff and did not mess around with its down-home flavor, savvy moves that helped him to be accepted by the community here. Howard Fishman, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 Sheehan and his colleagues leverage their media savvy in traditional ways, such as the video of Hernandez’s apartment, and by deploying comedy to deflate the pomp and hypocrisy around the games. Lauren Lee White, The New Republic, 19 Aug. 2022 Wine Depots are well known to savvy Eugene and Springfield wine buyers. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 29 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'savvy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History



alteration of sabi know (in English-based creoles and pidgins), from Portuguese sabe he knows, from saber to know, from Latin sapere to be wise — more at sage

First Known Use


1826, in the meaning defined above


circa 1785, in the meaning defined above


1686, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of savvy was in 1686


Dictionary Entries Near savvy

Cite this Entry

“Savvy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


1 of 3 verb
sav·​vy ˈsav-ē How to pronounce savvy (audio)
savvied; savvying


2 of 3 noun
: useful understanding : shrewdness


3 of 3 adjective
savvier; savviest
: having a practical understanding or knowledge of something
a savvy stock market investor

More from Merriam-Webster on savvy

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