clev·​er | \ ˈkle-vər How to pronounce clever (audio) \

Essential Meaning of clever

1 : intelligent and able to learn things quickly A few clever [=smart, bright] students have started a business recycling old computers. Some cats are clever enough to figure out how to operate doorknobs.
2 : showing intelligent thinking a clever design/invention That's the cleverest idea I've heard yet! She found a clever hiding place for the letter.
3 : funny in a way that shows intelligence I enjoyed the play's clever [=witty] dialogue.

Full Definition of clever

1a : skillful or adroit in using the hands or body : nimble clever fingers
b : mentally quick and resourceful a clever young lawyer
2 : marked by wit or ingenuity a clever solution a clever idea the play's clever dialogue
3 dialect
a : good
b : easy to use or handle

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Other Words from clever

cleverish \ ˈkle-​v(ə-​)rish How to pronounce clever (audio) \ adjective
cleverly \ ˈkle-​vər-​lē How to pronounce clever (audio) \ adverb
cleverness \ ˈkle-​vər-​nəs How to pronounce clever (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clever

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

synonyms see in addition intelligent

Examples of clever in a Sentence

All of Laptsev went to stare at the bride-to-be—she was no beauty, but everyone could see that she was clever, sophisticated … — Isaac Bashevis Singer, New Yorker, 29 Sept. 2003 … the three of them may give Gray Davis, who was too clever for his own good, his comeuppance. — Garrison Keillor, Time, 25 Aug. 2003 Some thought he had no redeeming value whatsoever. A sociopath. A clever manipulator … — Louise Erdrich, New Yorker, 2 Dec. 2002 Those who can't write poetry, write clever letters to the editor. Those who can't write clever letters to the editor, write angry letters to the editor. — Matt Groening, Utne Reader, November/December 1987 The old lady was clever enough and he thought that if she had started from any of the right premises, more might have been expected of her. — Flannery O'Connor, Everything That Rises Must Converge, 1967 Some cats are clever enough to figure out how to operate doorknobs. That's the cleverest idea I've heard yet! She found a clever hiding place for the letter.
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Recent Examples on the Web The young Noël Coward was often disparaged as a boy who was clever and knew it. Brad Leithauser, WSJ, 15 Oct. 2021 Joe can be very clever, but his plans have a habit of going wildly awry, leaving us privy to his panicked internal monologues. Brian Lowry, CNN, 13 Oct. 2021 The door pockets are clever, too; cutting short the typical grab handle leaves a spot to stow tall water bottles. Dave Vanderwerp, Car and Driver, 5 Oct. 2021 Google’s Pixel 6 marketing efforts might be clever, but they’re not supposed to reveal any real secrets about the phone. Chris Smith, BGR, 16 Sep. 2021 Does are great mothers and their maternal instincts are amazingly clever. Matt Williams, Dallas News, 3 July 2021 The idea is to increase the chance that your oh-so-clever wordplay won’t be the same one that 14 other people sent in — a chronic problem with our crossword contests. Washington Post, 22 July 2021 Jacky Levy, the costume designer, goes toe to toe with the writers in the sense that the finite details throughout are so clever. Alicia Lutes, Vulture, 11 Sep. 2021 The movie is undeniably clever and intoxicating to look at, and his actors seem to thrill at the chance to chase the chemtrails of his wildly esoteric storylines. Leah Greenblatt,, 4 Sep. 2021

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

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First Known Use of clever

circa 1595, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clever

Middle English cliver, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish dialect kløver alert, skillful

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Time Traveler for clever

Time Traveler

The first known use of clever was circa 1595

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Dictionary Entries Near clever

Cleveland, Mount



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Last Updated

18 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Clever.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for clever


clev·​er | \ ˈkle-vər How to pronounce clever (audio) \
cleverer; cleverest

Kids Definition of clever

1 : having a quick inventive mind a clever designer
2 : showing intelligence, wit, or imagination a clever joke a clever idea
3 : showing skill in using the hands He was very strong and clever with his knife …— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Other Words from clever

cleverly adverb
cleverness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on clever

Nglish: Translation of clever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clever for Arabic Speakers


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