ˈshrüd How to pronounce shrewd (audio)
 especially Southern  ˈsrüd
: marked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen
shrewd common sense
: given to wily and artful ways or dealing
a shrewd operator
: severe, hard
a shrewd knock
: sharp, piercing
a shrewd wind
archaic : mischievous
obsolete : abusive, shrewish
obsolete : ominous, dangerous
shrewdly adverb
shrewdness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for shrewd

shrewd, sagacious, perspicacious, astute mean acute in perception and sound in judgment.

shrewd stresses practical, hardheaded cleverness and judgment.

a shrewd judge of character

sagacious suggests wisdom, penetration, and farsightedness.

sagacious investors got in on the ground floor

perspicacious implies unusual power to see through and understand what is puzzling or hidden.

a perspicacious counselor saw through the child's facade

astute suggests shrewdness, perspicacity, and diplomatic skill.

an astute player of party politics

Examples of shrewd in a Sentence

According to Frank Luntz, Republican pollster and spinmeister, these younger working women with small children are critical swing voters. By dint of focus groups and shrewd professional questioning, Luntz has determined what these women need most—more time in their lives. He seemed to regard this finding as a considerable coup. Molly Ivins, Mother Jones, September/October 2004
When Ann Richards fractured her hand in a fall nine years ago, she went to the doctor for a bone density test only to learn that she had … an early form of osteoporosis. The diagnosis spurred the former Texas governor, whose mother and grandmother also suffered from the disease, to write I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle with Osteoporosis … an inspiring little volume filled with the author's shrewd insights into healthcare, gender and, yes, politics. Julie Hale, Book Page, August 2003
One shrewd political tactician who knew what it was like to lose a close election watched Goldwater closely. Nixon had an eye on a comeback in 1968 and knew he needed the South—all of it this time. Jon Meacham, Newsweek, 23 Dec. 2002
But a growing empire produces tough challenges. Winfrey is used to ironclad control. A shrewd businesswoman, she still signs all the checks of more than $1,000 for her Harpo Entertainment Group, and she meticulously scrutinizes the smaller ones that others sign for her. Lynette Clemetson, Newsweek, 8 Jan. 2001
She's shrewd about her investments. a shrewd used car dealer who knew how to make the best possible deal See More
Recent Examples on the Web This film will investigate how Mandela came through his ordeals with his humanity intact, and reveal the tough and shrewd politician behind his iconic ‘nice guy’ persona. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 11 Feb. 2024 But the screen belongs to Vergara — also an executive producer here — who owns this role of a cold-blooded and shrewd ‘70s-’80s upstart businesswoman. Randy Myers, The Mercury News, 24 Jan. 2024 Though some of Wikipedia’s contributors manipulate the platform, just as Lerner’s avatar did in his worst moments, the vast majority of us are shrewd, delightful, and ordinary people operating in achingly good faith. Jordan Castro, Harper's Magazine, 5 Jan. 2024 Norris was as well prepared as possible and was a forceful and shrewd advocate. Howard Schneider, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 In Doug Wilson’s shrewdest move during his 19-year reign as the Sharks’ general manager, Thornton was acquired for defenseman Brad Stuart and forwards Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm. Curtis Pashelka, The Mercury News, 17 Jan. 2024 No nation conducted shrewder diplomacy with the Islamic Republic than China, despite its former support for the shah’s regime. Christian Schneider, National Review, 21 Dec. 2023 Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection Most Popular With a giant bouffant, thick Southern accent, and a wardrobe of slick ’80s cocktail dresses, the actor is the shrewd and strategic foil to Tom Hanks’s freewheeling congressman in this political drama, Roberts’s second collaboration with Mike Nichols. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 13 Jan. 2024 Outside the photo’s frame was the shrewd but self-effacing executive who orchestrated the summit: OpenAI’s vice president of global affairs. Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, 9 Jan. 2024 See More

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

Word History


Middle English shrewed, from shrewe + -ed entry 1

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of shrewd was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near shrewd

Cite this Entry

“Shrewd.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: showing quick practical cleverness : astute
a shrewd observer
also : marked by clever dealing that takes advantage
a shrewd negotiator
shrewdly adverb
shrewdness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on shrewd

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