savvy

adjective
sav·​vy | \ ˈsa-vē How to pronounce savvy (audio) \
savvier; savviest

Definition of savvy

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: having or showing perception, comprehension, or shrewdness especially in practical matters

savvy

noun

Definition of savvy (Entry 2 of 3)

: practical know-how political savvy

savvy

verb
savvied; savvying

Definition of savvy (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from savvy

Adjective

savvily adverb
savviness noun

Did You Know?

Adjective

You may be familiar with the noun savvy, meaning "practical know-how" (as in "he has political savvy"), and the adjective use (as in "a savvy investor"). And if you've seen the blockbuster movie Pirates of the Caribbean, you also know that the verb is often used as an informal, one-word question meaning "Do you understand?" (as in "I'm Captain Jack Sparrow. Savvy?"). But Jack Sparrow (i.e., Johnny Depp) didn't invent the term. Both the noun and the verb came into use around 1785. "Savvy" is based on the Portuguese term sabe, meaning "he knows," which itself is from Latin sapere, meaning "to be wise." Creole speakers interpreted the Portuguese term as "sabi" and began using it as one would "know." Eventually, the Creole's "sabi" evolved into savvy.

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?”
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Credit Philip Rivers for being a savvy veteran who knows how to buy time and move around in the pocket. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' special teams abysmal in win over L.A. Chargers," 15 Sep. 2019 The Garland, Texas native is a savvy player with a sky-high basketball IQ. Emily Caron, SI.com, "The Dynamic Tyrese Maxey Could Be the Next Star Kentucky Guard," 4 Sep. 2019 For some savvy collectors, the motivation is financial; rare toys can go for a pretty penny. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Not all superheroes wear capes: Black action figures at Lewis Museum fight crime, stereotypes," 22 Aug. 2019 His bold, heroic portraits of black subjects in poses that channel the Old Masters were on the must-have lists of savvy collectors. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "Amy Sherald, Michelle Obama’s Portraitist, Readies her New York Debut," 15 July 2019 Smart and savvy players will always have a role on this defense. Jim Mcbride, BostonGlobe.com, "Trey Flowers left a big hole to fill on the Patriots defensive line," 4 July 2019 To appeal to a health-savvy customer, lots of places are going beyond just adding a veggie burger option and instead carving out a whole vegan/vegetarian section on their menus. Rod Stafford Hagwood, sun-sentinel.com, "12 vegan and vegetarian restaurants you need to check out," 6 Sep. 2019 Putting the factory in Arnstadt may also have been a savvy political move. New York Times, "With a $2 Billion Factory From China, a German City Lets Others Worry," 2 Sep. 2019 Underpinning those exponential strides was a savvy preseason move that shipped Chad Curtis to Detroit for veteran leadoff hitter Tony Phillips. Los Angeles Times, "MLB 1994 strike: Angels emerged stronger after walkout ended ho-hum season," 12 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Working through archaeology and tourist development, Elad is more media-savvy than some of its counterparts, such as Ateret Cohanim, another group installing a Jewish population in the Palestinian villages of East Jerusalem. Rachel Poser, Harper's magazine, "Common Ground," 19 Aug. 2019 Since taking the helm in September, WPP chief Mark Read has moved to pare down the sprawling ad empire as marketers look to work with agencies that are more nimble and tech savvy. Nick Kostov, WSJ, "Ad Giant WPP to Sell Kantar Stake to Bain," 12 July 2019 Using the Rosenberg controversy confirms Tyrnauer’s partisan savvy. Armond White, National Review, "Where’s My Roy Cohn? Is a Lesson in Demonization," 12 Sep. 2019 June’s quick-witted nature and natural business savvy saw her jump head first into the game, snagging an internship with Uptown/MCA Records—a position that ultimately helped jump start what would become a decades-long career in fashion. Maiya Carmichael, Essence, "ESSENCE Fashion House: June Ambrose On The Art Of Unapologetic Style," 7 Sep. 2019 The spotlight turned to Welch, and the countless profiles and articles that trumpeted his management savvy inevitably discussed the central role of Six Sigma. Oliver Staley, Quartz at Work, "Whatever happened to Six Sigma?," 3 Sep. 2019 The Five Star Movement, new to government, struggled to keep pace — or match Salvini’s political savvy. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Italy’s prime minister just resigned. What the heck comes next?," 21 Aug. 2019 The community would not be here without (George Mitchell’s) foresight and business savvy. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "Segment of I-45 to be named George P. Mitchell Memorial Highway," 18 July 2019 With a mixture of granular detail and analyses of Kennedy's decision-making and political savvy, American Moonshot transcends mere narrative to help us understand how America launched a crash program to land a man on the moon. Dallas News, "Books examine the courage and scientific know-how that propelled us to the moon," 1 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of savvy

Adjective

1826, in the meaning defined above

Noun

circa 1785, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1686, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for savvy

Verb

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

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Dictionary Entries near savvy

savoyed

savoying

savs

savvy

saw

sawah

Sawākin

Statistics for savvy

Last Updated

14 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for savvy

The first known use of savvy was in 1686

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More Definitions for savvy

savvy

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of savvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

US : having practical understanding or knowledge of something

savvy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of savvy (Entry 2 of 2)

: practical understanding or knowledge of something

savvy

noun
sav·​vy | \ ˈsa-vē\

Kids Definition of savvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: practical knowledge or understanding She's admired for her business savvy.

savvy

adjective

Kids Definition of savvy (Entry 2 of 2)

: having practical knowledge or understanding of something savvy investors

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More from Merriam-Webster on savvy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savvy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savvy

Nglish: Translation of savvy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savvy for Arabic Speakers

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