street·​wise | \ ˈstrēt-ˌwīz How to pronounce streetwise (audio) \

Definition of streetwise

: possessing the skills and attitudes necessary to survive in a difficult or dangerous situation or environment

Examples of streetwise in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But that wasn’t the currency in play when Bob Ritchie, coming of age in the late ’80s and ’90s, shaped a sound and image that mixed streetwise flash with a trashy twist. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Kid Rock is still Kid Rock — it's the culture that has changed since he hit the scene," 8 Dec. 2019 Roosevelt dances into his elementary-school classroom where he is recognized as the streetwise student teacher of a boisterous class. Bryan Greene, Smithsonian, "The Unmistakable Black Roots of ‘Sesame Street’," 7 Nov. 2019 But like Annie, little orphan Lionel was rescued by an unexpected savior in Frank Minna (Bruce Willis), a streetwise private detective with an eye for diamonds in the rough. Kerry Lengel,, Detroit Free Press, "‘Motherless Brooklyn’ is a noir tale for the #MeToo era," 31 Oct. 2019 But like Annie, little orphan Lionel was rescued by an unexpected savior in Frank Minna (Bruce Willis), a streetwise private detective with an eye for diamonds in the rough. Kerry Lengel, azcentral, "Review: Edward Norton's 'Motherless Brooklyn' is a retro-noir fable for the #MeToo era," 31 Oct. 2019 The cynical, steadfast, streetwise Celia does much of the novel’s heavy lifting. Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post, "In her new novel, Rene Denfeld draws on her experience as a homeless child," 28 Oct. 2019 In the latest adaptation of the classic novel, Twist sees Oliver reinvented as a streetwise artist living on the streets of modern-day London. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Michael Caine to Play Fagin in New 'Oliver Twist' Adaptation," 16 Oct. 2019 Instead, Chamberland, who had developed a streetwise swagger but few family bonds, moved in with a man twice her age. Globe Staff,, "She’s been bounced through more than a dozen foster homes. And she’s just 6," 24 Aug. 2019 While Burberry, Balmain, and Tom Ford all embraced the muted shade with classic bourgeois stylings on the runways, Bieber’s take on the look was more casual and streetwise in attitude. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Hailey Bieber Steps Out In Fashion’s Coolest New Neutral Shade," 19 Nov. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of streetwise

1949, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about streetwise

Time Traveler for streetwise

Time Traveler

The first known use of streetwise was in 1949

See more words from the same year

Statistics for streetwise

Cite this Entry

“Streetwise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for streetwise


How to pronounce streetwise (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of streetwise

: having the knowledge needed to survive in difficult and dangerous places or situations in a city

More from Merriam-Webster on streetwise

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with streetwise

Comments on streetwise

What made you want to look up streetwise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!