1 of 3


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."

Examples of savvy in a Sentence

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
Beyond the ‘raw data’ paradigm One powerful solution is to be savvier about the different kinds of data currently available, and the appropriate policy response for each. Rachel Ventresca, Fortune, 7 June 2024 Read more: JPMorgan Chase is about to let advertisers target customers based on their spending Visa, which has been around since 1958, is also looking to set itself apart from some of its more modern and digitally savvy fintech rivals, like Stripe and Plaid. Rocio Fabbro, Quartz, 16 May 2024
Consider Letting Your Child Access Various Financial Tools As your children grow older and approach high school, their financial knowledge and savvy should also be increasing. Mia Taylor, Parents, 5 June 2024 That said, well-off members who splurge can still congratulate themselves on their savvy. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 28 May 2024
Comprised of side-by-side snapshots of high-fashion runways and Barbie doll outfits, the book takes a closer look at just how style savvy your favorite doll has always been. Hedy Phillips, Peoplemag, 15 Aug. 2023 The Giants were knocked coming into the season for having the oldest roster in baseball, but as their remarkable season unfurled and the veterans flourished, the narrative shifted to admiration for the leadership and savvy the older players provided. Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle, 15 Oct. 2021 See all Example Sentences for savvy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'savvy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 15 Jun. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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