Synonym Chooser

How is the word artful distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of artful are crafty, cunning, foxy, slick, sly, tricky, and wily. While all these words mean "attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means," artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness.

elicited the information by artful questioning

When might crafty be a better fit than artful?

The meanings of crafty and artful largely overlap; however, crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method.

a crafty lefthander

When could cunning be used to replace artful?

Although the words cunning and artful have much in common, cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing.

the cunning fox avoided the trap

Where would foxy be a reasonable alternative to artful?

The words foxy and artful are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing.

a foxy publicity man planting stories

In what contexts can slick take the place of artful?

The words slick and artful can be used in similar contexts, but slick emphasizes smoothness and guile.

slick operators selling time-sharing

When would sly be a good substitute for artful?

In some situations, the words sly and artful are roughly equivalent. However, sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods.

a sly corporate raider

When is it sensible to use tricky instead of artful?

While in some cases nearly identical to artful, tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering.

a tricky political operative

When can wily be used instead of artful?

While the synonyms wily and artful are close in meaning, wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering.

the wily fugitive escaped the posse

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Cite this Entry

“Artful.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/artful. Accessed 29 May. 2024.

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