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



Definition of savvy (Entry 2 of 3)

: practical know-how political savvy


savvied; savvying

Definition of savvy (Entry 3 of 3)

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Other Words from savvy


savvily adverb
savviness noun

Did You Know?


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 Toward the end of the clip, the business-savvy CEO enters her daughter Stormi Webster‘s playroom, waking the 1-year-old up with the morning greeting. Robyn Merrett,, "Kourtney Kardashian Shares Her Good Morning Song After Kylie Jenner's 'Rise and Shine' Goes Viral," 7 Nov. 2019 Just as foreign powers sometimes use Kurdish groups to advance their regional goals, Kurdish groups are just as savvy in taking advantage of foreign partnerships to advance their interests at home. Ramzy Mardini And Morgan L. Kaplan, Twin Cities, "Mardini, Kaplan: Five myths about Kurds," 4 Nov. 2019 The company’s retail competition is savvier now and has advantages that Amazon can’t match. Washington Post, "Amazon’s One Sure Thing Starts to Look Shaky," 24 Oct. 2019 There’s too much competition, and consumers are far too savvy to fall for a substitute. Harley Finkelstein, Quartz, "Influencers are changing the face of commerce for good," 15 Oct. 2019 The Bolts bring back largely the same team, though the addition of Pat Maroon was particularly savvy. The Si Staff,, "Roundtable: Storylines, Surprises and Disappointments for 2019–20 NHL Season," 29 Sep. 2019 Burna Boy’s music is savvy and modern but undistracted by obvious crossover moves. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Burna Boy celebrates L.A.'s African diaspora at star-making Wiltern show," 30 Aug. 2019 On Sunday, September 15, Meghan Markle celebrated her husband's birthday just like any other social-media-savvy partner: by posting a tribute to Instagram. Stacey Leasca, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Just Shared a Never-Before-Seen Photo of Baby Archie on Instagram," 15 Sep. 2019 After a former associate makes it his mission to end the Expendables, Barney Ross assembles a team of younger, tech-savvy recruits to help take down their enemy. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Listen to a friend who has substantial money savvy., "You have a strong set of values, and you know what you want. As a result, you can butt heads with others, especially when encountering feedback. In any case, it is important that you act as if you are the only source of wisdom. Be gracious. Tonight: Count on a late night.," 10 Sep. 2019 After dominating the Division II level last year, Brown could be UConn’s top pass-catcher in 2019, with a combination of speed and savvy that few Huskies can match. Alex Putterman,, "UConn football vs. Illinois: time, how to watch, broadcasters, weather, betting line, preview," 7 Sep. 2019 The Owls, outmanned Saturday but potentially the Conference USA champion, had enough savvy and talent to expose the Buckeyes on occasion. Nathan Baird,, "Ohio State must build on defensive start from 45-21 victory over Florida Atlantic," 31 Aug. 2019 Chiefs sixth-round running back Darwin Thompson positioned himself as a potential backup to Damien Williams by showing off his elusiveness and savvy in pass protection. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL preseason winners, losers: Patriots reload, while Colts, Chargers take hits," 23 Aug. 2019 Since the day he was drafted, the Chargers have praised Tranquill’s instincts and football savvy. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers rookie Drue Tranquill is making presence felt at linebacker and special teams," 22 Aug. 2019 Siwa has an innate media savvy that calls up questions of nature vs. nurture. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Time, "'What Do People Want Me to Do? Wear Black Every Day?': How Child Star JoJo Siwa Built Her Sparkly Empire," 22 Aug. 2019 Bjelf was impressed by his friend’s computer savvy. Stephanie Clifford, WIRED, "He Cyberstalked Teen Girls for Years—Then They Fought Back," 24 June 2019 His passing wizardry fooled defenders and his on-court savvy helped him get steals and take charges. Ben Bolch,, "Mick Cronin’s determination fueled his coaching journey from Cincinnati to UCLA," 8 June 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


1826, in the meaning defined above


circa 1785, in the meaning defined above


1686, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for savvy


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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Statistics for savvy

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for savvy

The first known use of savvy was in 1686

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More Definitions for savvy


How to pronounce savvy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of savvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

US : having practical understanding or knowledge of something



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

: practical understanding or knowledge of something


sav·​vy | \ ˈsa-vē\

Kids Definition of savvy

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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



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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for savvy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with savvy

Nglish: Translation of savvy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of savvy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on savvy

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to spread as a report or rumor

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