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adj. shrewd·er, shrewd·est
1. Having or showing a clever awareness or resourcefulness, especially in practical matters.
2. Disposed to or marked by artful and cunning practices; tricky.
3. Archaic Sharp; penetrating: a shrewd wind.

[Middle English shrewed, wicked, from shrew, rascal; see shrew.]

shrewd′ly adv.
shrewd′ness n.
Synonyms: shrewd, sagacious, astute, perspicacious
These adjectives mean having or showing keen awareness, sound judgment, and often resourcefulness, especially in practical matters. Shrewd suggests a sharp intelligence, hardheadedness, and often an intuitive grasp of practical considerations: "He was too shrewd to go along with them upon a road which could lead only to their overthrow" (J.A. Froude).
Sagacious connotes prudence, discernment, and farsightedness: "He was observant and thoughtful, and given to asking sagacious questions" (John Galt).
Astute suggests shrewdness, especially with regard to one's own interests: An astute tenant always reads the small print in a lease.
Perspicacious implies penetration and clear-sightedness: She is much too perspicacious to be taken in by such a spurious argument.


 of apes: company of apes, 1452; shrewdness was defined in 1567 as naughtiness or mischievousness.




know what’s o’clock To be cognizant of the true state of affairs, to know what’s up; to be on the ball.

Our governor’s wide awake … He knows what’s o’clock. (Dickens, Sketches by Boz, 1836)

This expression is rarely heard in the United States, where the analogous negative is a familiar expression of ignorance: “He doesn’t even know what time it is.”

know which way the wind blows To be shrewdly aware of the true state of affairs; to have an intuitive sense of what will probably happen. The origin of this expression may have been nautical. One must know which way the wind blows in order to navigate a vessel. Variants of this expression appeared in print as early as the 15th century. Today it is used figuratively to indicate a commonsensical awareness of outside influences at work.

Philadelphia lawyer A shrewd, sharp lawyer well-acquainted with the intricacies and subtleties of the law; a very clever lawyer who uses his knowledge of legal technicalities and fine points to his advantage; a shyster. The reference is apparently to Alexander Hamilton, a former attorney general in Philadelphia. In a case of criminal libel in 1735, he obtained an acquittal for John Peter Zenger, the publisher of the New York Weekly Journal, in the face of what seemed to be irrefutable evidence. The decision established the principle of freedom of the press in America. Use of the term dates from the late 18th century.

The new violation ticket will be in quadruplicate, and traffic officials say it takes a “Philadelphia lawyer” to fix it. (The Daily Times [Chicago], November, 1947)

sly-boots A cunning, sly, or wily person, especially one who gives the impression of being slow-witted. In this expression, boots probably refers to a servant, stereotypically a dullard, who polishes boots and shoes. Thus, a slyboots is one who appears to be a dolt but who is actually shrewd and alert.

That sly-boots was cursedly cunning to hide ’em. (Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation, A Poem, 1774)

A variation is sly as old boots.

smart as a whip Extremely bright, alert, witty, or clever; very intelligent; sharp or keen. This commonly used expression may have originated as a humorous twist on smart ‘sharp pain,’ such as that caused by a whip.

[He] was a prompt and successful business man, “smart as a whip,” as the Yankees say. (Mountaineer [Salt Lake City, Utah], March 24, 1860)

too far north Too clever or shrewd, smart or knowing, extremely canny.

It shan’t avail you, you shall find me too far north for you. (Tobias Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random, 1748)

This British slang expression is an allusion to the reputed shrewdness of the inhabitants of northern counties such as Yorkshire and Aberdeen.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.shrewdness - intelligence manifested by being astute (as in business dealings)shrewdness - intelligence manifested by being astute (as in business dealings)
business enterprise, commercial enterprise, business - the activity of providing goods and services involving financial and commercial and industrial aspects; "computers are now widely used in business"
intelligence - the ability to comprehend; to understand and profit from experience
craftiness, cunning, foxiness, guile, slyness, wiliness, craft - shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
insightfulness, acumen - shrewdness shown by keen insight
knowingness - shrewdness demonstrated by knowledge
street smarts - a shrewd ability to survive in a dangerous urban environment


noun astuteness, cleverness, sharpness, judgment, grasp, penetration, acumen, suss (slang), discernment, perspicacity, sagacity, smartness, quick wits, acuteness, canniness His natural shrewdness tells him what is needed to succeed.


ذَكاء، دَهاء، مَكْر
glöggskyggni; kænska


[ˈʃruːdnɪs] N [of person] → astucia f, sagacidad f; [of assessment, reasoning] → lo acertado; [of remark, observation] → sagacidad f, perspicacia f; [of plan] → lo inteligente


[ˈʃruːdnɪs] nperspicacité f


n (of person)Gewitztheit f, → Klugheit f, → Cleverness f (inf); (of businessman also, plan, move)Raffiniertheit f, → Geschicktheit f; (of investment, argument) → Klugheit f; (of assessment, observer)Schärfe f, → Genauigkeit f; (of guess)Treffsicherheit f


[ˈʃruːdnɪs] n (see adj) → acume m, accortezza, astuzia, perspicacia


(ʃruːd) adjective
showing good judgement; wise. a shrewd man; a shrewd choice.
ˈshrewdly adverb
ˈshrewdness noun
References in classic literature ?
The little boy only put his thumb to his broad snub-nose, with that look of shrewdness which a child, spending much of his time in the street.
He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity.
Not only that, but the subtle insanity of Ahab respecting Moby Dick was noways more significantly manifested than in his superlative sense and shrewdness in foreseeing that, for the present, the hunt should in some way be stripped of that strange imaginative impiousness which naturally invested it; that the full terror of the voyage must be kept withdrawn into the obscure background (for few men's courage is proof against protracted meditation unrelieved by action); that when they stood their long night watches, his officers and men must have some nearer things to think of than Moby Dick.
Phineas was tall and lathy, red-haired, with an expression of great acuteness and shrewdness in his face.
Micawber, 'who is a man of remarkable shrewdness, I desire to speak with all possible respect.
The rest was divided amongst the outlaws, according to their rank and merit, and the judgment of the Chief, on all such doubtful questions as occurred, was delivered with great shrewdness, and received with absolute submission.
He had no shrewdness, in any commercial sense, and very little knowledge of the small practical details of ordinary living.
By these words of his the travellers were able to satisfy themselves of Don Quixote's being out of his senses and of the form of madness that overmastered him, at which they felt the same astonishment that all felt on first becoming acquainted with it; and Vivaldo, who was a person of great shrewdness and of a lively temperament, in order to beguile the short journey which they said was required to reach the mountain, the scene of the burial, sought to give him an opportunity of going on with his absurdities.
Like du Bousquier, like the Chevalier de Valois, she had a policy of her own; she was on the watch for circumstances, awaiting the propitious moment for a move with the shrewdness of maternal instinct.
repeated the worthy servant to himself, proud of his shrewdness.
de Treville, as he has ended by styling himself in Paris, had really commenced life as D'Artagnan now did; that is to say, without a sou in his pocket, but with a fund of audacity, shrewdness, and intelligence which makes the poorest Gascon gentleman often derive more in his hope from the paternal inheritance than the richest Perigordian or Berrichan gentleman derives in reality from his.
What, above all, manifested the shrewdness of the steward, and the profound science of the master, the one in carrying out the ideas of the other, was that this house which appeared only the night before so sad and gloomy, impregnated with that sickly smell one can almost fancy to be the smell of time, had in a single day acquired the aspect of life, was scented with its master's favorite perfumes, and had the very light regulated according to his wish.