Thesaurus

cunning

adjective

Synonyms and Antonyms of cunning

  1. 1 clever at attaining one's ends by indirect and often deceptive means a cunning, underhanded plan to win the election by preying on people's fears and prejudices Synonyms of cunning beguiling, cagey (also cagy), crafty, artful, cute, designing, devious, dodgy [chiefly British], foxy, guileful, scheming, shrewd, slick, sly, subtle, tricky, wilyWords Related to cunning astute, facile, glib, sharp; crooked, deceitful, deceptive, dishonest, fraudulent, insinuating, knavish, Machiavellian, oblique, serpentine, shady, shifty, slippery, sneaky, treacherous, underhand, underhanded, unscrupulous; backhanded, double-dealing, hypocritical, insincere, left-handed, mealy, mealymouthed, smooth-tongued, two-faced; circuitous, circular, roundabout; clandestine, concealed, covert, furtive, hugger-mugger, secret, stealthy, surreptitious, undercover; calculating, plottingNear Antonyms of cunning obvious, open, patent, plain, public, unconcealed; aboveboard, candid, direct, forthright, frank, honest, natural, outspoken, plainspoken, real, simple, sincere, straightforward, unaffected, unpretending, unpretentious, unvarnished; childlike, impressionable, simpleminded, unsophisticated, unworldly; unforced, unstudied; trustful, trustingAntonyms of cunning artless, guileless, ingenuous, innocent, undesigning

  2. 2 skillful with the hands only the most cunning cabinetmaker could have crafted such a beautifully proportioned chest of drawers Synonyms of cunning clever, dexterous, deft, handyWords Related to cunning agile, flexible, graceful, limber, lissome (also lissom), lithe, lithesome, nimble, spry; coordinated; able, adept, capable, competent, expert, habile, masterful, masterly, proficient, qualified, skilled, skillful, sure-handed; double-jointed, loose-jointedNear Antonyms of cunning awkward, bungling, clumsy, fumbling, gauche, gawky, graceless, klutzy, rough-hewn, stiff, stilted, uncomfortable, uneasy, ungainly, ungraceful, wooden; uncoordinated; incapable, incompetent, inept, inexpert, maladroitAntonyms of cunning butterfingered, ham-fisted, ham-handed, handless, heavy-handed, unhandy

Synonym Discussion of cunning

clever, adroit, cunning, ingenious mean having or showing practical wit or skill in contriving. clever stresses physical or mental quickness, deftness, or great aptitude.
    • a person clever with horses
adroit often implies a skillful use of expedients to achieve one's purpose in spite of difficulties.
    • an adroit negotiator
cunning implies great skill in constructing or creating.
    • a filmmaker cunning in his use of special effects
ingenious suggests the power of inventing or discovering a new way of accomplishing something.
    • an ingenious software engineer

cunning

noun

Synonyms and Antonyms of cunning

  1. 1 skill in achieving one's ends through indirect, subtle, or underhanded means the cunning with which Tom Sawyer was able to get others to whitewash the fence for him Synonyms of cunning artfulness, artifice, caginess (also cageyness), canniness, craft, craftiness, cunningness, deviousness, foxiness, guile, guilefulness, slickness, slyness, sneakiness, subtleness, subtlety, wiliness Words Related to cunning calculation, care, design; savvy, sharpness, shrewdness; cleverness, ingeniousness, ingenuity, inventiveness; ease, facility, finesse; deceitfulness, duplicity, shiftiness, underhandedness

  2. 2 subtle or imaginative ability in inventing, devising, or executing something the unmatched cunning of the scout who led them safely through the trackless wilderness Synonyms of cunning adeptness, adroitness, art, artfulness, artifice, artistry, cleverness, craft, skill, deftness, masterfulness, skillfulnessWords Related to cunning dexterity, ease, finesse, handiness; experience, expertise, expertness, know-how, proficiency; creativity, ingenuity, inventiveness, knowledge, learning; aptitude, bent, flair, gift, knack, talentNear Antonyms of cunning amateurishness, awkwardness, clumsiness, crudeness, klutziness, rudeness; inability, inadequacy, inadequateness, incapability, incapacity, incompetence, ineffectiveness, ineffectuality, ineffectualness, inefficacy, inefficiencyAntonyms of cunning artlessness, ineptitude, ineptness, maladroitness

  3. 3 the inclination or practice of misleading others through lies or trickery used cunning and subterfuge to work her way up the corporate ladder Synonyms of cunning artifice, cheating, cozenage, craft, craftiness, crookedness, crookery, deceit, cunningness, deceitfulness, deception, deceptiveness, dishonesty, dissembling, dissimulation, double-dealing, dupery, duplicity, fakery, foxiness, fraud, guile, guilefulness, wilinessWords Related to cunning equivocation, lying, mendacity, prevarication; chicane, chicanery, fraudulence, hanky-panky, jugglery, legerdemain, mountebankery, obliquity, skulduggery (or skullduggery), subterfuge, swindling, trickery, wile; falsehood, falsity, fib, untruth; hypocrisy, insincerity, sanctimoniousness, two-facedness; artfulness, caginess (also cageyness), deviousness, shrewdness; treacherousness, underhandedness, unscrupulousness; covertness, furtiveness, secrecy, shadiness, sneakiness, stealthiness; oiliness, shiftiness, slickness, slipperiness, slyness, smoothnessNear Antonyms of cunning candidness, candor, directness, frankness, openness, plainness, plainspokenness; honesty, probity; dependability, reliability, reliableness, solidity, trustability, trustiness, trustworthiness; decency, goodness, incorruptibility, integrity, righteousness, truthfulness, uprightness, virtuousnessAntonyms of cunning artlessness, forthrightness, good faith, guilelessness, ingenuousness, sincerity

Synonym Discussion of cunning

art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised. art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power.
    • the art of choosing the right word
skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency.
    • the skill of a glassblower
cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing.
    • a mystery plotted with great cunning
artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature.
    • believed realism in film could be achieved only by artifice
craft may imply expertness in workmanship.
    • the craft of a master goldsmith


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to praise usually to excess

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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