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adj. clev·er·er, clev·er·est
a. Mentally quick and original; bright: a clever student.
b. Skilled at accomplishing things, especially with the hands: a clever carpenter.
c. Crafty; cunning: "a hard-working kid who rose from poverty, only to be duped by rich, clever bankers" (Jeff Goodell).
a. Exhibiting ingenuity or imagination; creative or artful: a clever experiment.
b. Witty; amusing: an evening of clever repartee.
c. Characterized by cunning or shrewdness: clever manipulation of public opinion.
3. New England Easily managed; docile: "Oxen must be pretty clever to be bossed around the way they are" (Dialect Notes).
4. Chiefly Southern US Good-natured; amiable.

[Middle English cliver; akin to East Frisian klifer, klüfer; see gleubh- in Indo-European roots.]

clev′er·ly adv.
clev′er·ness n.




  1. Adroit as a rhinoceros —Franklin P. Adams
  2. Brains like the frogs, dispersed all over his body —Charles Dickens
  3. Clever as a bird-dog —American colloquialism, attributed to New England
  4. Clever as sin —Rudyard Kipling
  5. Crafty as a new religious convert pledged to win over a sinner —Gloria Norris
  6. Crafty as an exorcist —Miles Gibson
  7. Crafty as the sea —W. B. Yeats
  8. Cunning as a dead pig, but not half so honest —Jonathan Swift
  9. Cunning is a sort of short-sightedness —Joseph Addison
  10. Has as many tricks as a bear —John Ray’s Proverbs
  11. Hinted with the delicacy of a lilac bud —Sinclair Lewis
  12. Ingenious as magicians —Delmore Schwartz
  13. Like rats, his wits were beginning to busy themselves again —Walter De La Mare
  14. Little clevernesses are like half-ripened plums, only good eating on the side that has had a glimpse of the sun —Henry James
  15. Played on his misfortune as on a cello —Marguerite Yourcenar
  16. Sharp and bright as a blade of sunlight —Alice Walker
  17. Sharp as a cut-throat razor —Donald Seaman
  18. Sharp as a knife —American colloquialism, attributed to New England

    An equally popular variation, also attributed to New England folklore: “Sharp as a razor.”

  19. Sharp as a needle —Anon

    Common usage has made this interchangeable with “Sharp as a pin.” A variation of more recent vintage, “Sharp as a tack,” has become a cliche in its own right.

  20. Sharp as mustard —Ogden Nash

    In Nash’s poem, The Tale of the Custard Dragon, the descriptive frame of reference is a little dog.

  21. Shrewd as a barrel-load of monkeys —Robin Sheiner
  22. Shrewd as a sparrow —Janet Flanner
  23. Shrewdness is often annoying, like a lamp in the bedroom —Ludwig Boerne
  24. Sly and slick as a varmint —Robert Penn Warren
  25. (Every move had been as stealthy and as) sly as a hungry coyote —William Humphrey
  26. Smart as a whip —Anon

    Used to the point of abuse since the seventeenth century. A variation in keeping with the phrase’s origin in the smarting pain caused by a whip: “Sharp as a whiplash.”

  27. Smart as new nails —Sharon Sheehe Stark
  28. Tricky as palmistry —Karl Shapiro
  29. Wily as a fox —John Clarke

    The fox continues to be a favorite link to clever, crafty behavior. Often ‘cunning’ is substituted for ‘wiley’, and the fox is not just any fox but “An old one.”

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Cleverness - the power of creative imaginationcleverness - the power of creative imagination  
creative thinking, creativeness, creativity - the ability to create
resourcefulness, imagination, resource - the ability to deal resourcefully with unusual problems; "a man of resource"
2.cleverness - intelligence as manifested in being quick and witty
intelligence - the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
3.cleverness - the property of being ingenious; "a plot of great ingenuity"; "the cleverness of its design"
high quality, superiority - the quality of being superior


1. intelligence, sense, brains, wit, brightness, nous (Brit. slang), suss (slang), quickness, gumption (Brit. informal), sagacity, smartness, astuteness, quick wits, smarts (slang, chiefly U.S.) He congratulated himself on his cleverness.
2. shrewdness, sharpness, resourcefulness, canniness a policy almost Machiavellian in its cleverness
3. dexterity, ability, talent, gift, flair, ingenuity, adroitness The artist demonstrates a cleverness with colours and textures.
ذَكاء، مَهارَه، بَراعَه
greind, hugvit


[ˈklevənɪs] N
1. (= intelligence) → inteligencia f
2. (= skill) → habilidad f
3. (= ingenuity) → ingenio m
4. (= astuteness) [of person] → astucia f, maña f; [of trick, technique, plan] → lo ingenioso


[ˈklɛvərnɪs] n [person] → intelligence f


(= intelligence)Schlauheit f; (of animal also)Klugheit f
(= skill, ingenuity)Klugheit f; (of person, move in chess also)Geschicktheit f; (of idea)Schlauheit f; (of device, machine)Raffiniertheit f
(= cunning)Schläue pl, → Cleverness f


[ˈklɛvənɪs] n (intelligence) → intelligenza; (deftness) → abilità; (ingenuity) → genialità


(ˈklevə) adjective
1. quick to learn and understand. a clever child.
2. skilful. a clever carpenter.
3. (of things) showing cleverness. a clever idea.
ˈcleverly adverb
ˈcleverness noun
References in classic literature ?
But remembering Edna's whimsical turn of mind of late, and foreseeing that she had immediately acted upon her impetuous determination, he grasped the situation with his usual promptness and handled it with his well-known business tact and cleverness.
What I remember is that I was content not, for the time, to open the question, and that contentment must have sprung from the sense of his perpetually striking show of cleverness.
That is active duty," says the Vishnu Purana, "which is not for our bondage; that is knowledge which is for our liberation: all other duty is good only unto weariness; all other knowledge is only the cleverness of an artist.
And so, as I came trotting out of that cul de sac, full of satisfaction with my own cleverness, he turned the corner and I walked right into his handcuffs.
Tom did his humble comrade these various ill turns partly out of native viciousness, and partly because he hated him for his superiorities of physique and pluck, and for his manifold cleverness.
Her infernal cleverness put an obstacle I had not expected in the way of my intercepting it.
All cleverness, whether in the rapid use of that difficult instrument the tongue, or in some other art unfamiliar to villagers, was in itself suspicious: honest folk, born and bred in a visible manner, were mostly not overwise or clever--at least, not beyond such a matter as knowing the signs of the weather; and the process by which rapidity and dexterity of any kind were acquired was so wholly hidden, that they partook of the nature of conjuring.
The cook came up the side like a monkey for cleverness, and as soon as he saw what was doing, "So ho, mates
She undressed and stole into bed, congratulating herself apparently on the cleverness with which she had managed her expedition.
As a reward for his cleverness, a shower of gold fell upon Pupin, and made him in an instant as rich as one of the grand-dukes of his native land.
He robbed him of a great deal of his natural force, and so do all those who try to turn books written in verse into another language, for, with all the pains they take and all the cleverness they show, they never can reach the level of the originals as they were first produced.
He now returned to his old opinions, and became the leader of the liberal party in Alencon, the invisible manipulator of elections, and did immense harm to the Restoration by the cleverness of his underhand proceedings and the perfidy of his outward behavior.