as in cunning
clever at attaining one's ends by indirect and often deceptive means he's a tricky one, so be careful when dealing with him

Synonyms & Similar Words

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

Synonym Chooser

How is the word tricky distinct from other similar adjectives?

Some common synonyms of tricky are artful, crafty, cunning, foxy, slick, sly, and wily. While all these words mean "attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means," tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering.

a tricky political operative

When can artful be used instead of tricky?

While the synonyms artful and tricky are close in meaning, artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness.

elicited the information by artful questioning

When is it sensible to use crafty instead of tricky?

While in some cases nearly identical to tricky, crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method.

a crafty lefthander

When might cunning be a better fit than tricky?

The words cunning and tricky can be used in similar contexts, but cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing.

the cunning fox avoided the trap

When would foxy be a good substitute for tricky?

The synonyms foxy and tricky are sometimes interchangeable, but foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing.

a foxy publicity man planting stories

When is slick a more appropriate choice than tricky?

In some situations, the words slick and tricky are roughly equivalent. However, slick emphasizes smoothness and guile.

slick operators selling time-sharing

When could sly be used to replace tricky?

The words sly and tricky are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods.

a sly corporate raider

Where would wily be a reasonable alternative to tricky?

The meanings of wily and tricky largely overlap; however, wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering.

the wily fugitive escaped the posse

Thesaurus Entries Near tricky

Cite this Entry

“Tricky.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

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