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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.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




  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.”

Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


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.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
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
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈklɛvərnɪs] n [person] → intelligence f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= 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
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈklɛvənɪs] n (intelligence) → intelligenza; (deftness) → abilità; (ingenuity) → genialità
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(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
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
One whole shelf was marked: "Brain Furniture," and the bottles on this shelf were labeled as follows: "Obedience," "Cleverness," "Judgment," "Courage," "Ingenuity," "Amiability," "Learning," "Truth," "Poesy," "Self Reliance."
"--and we therefore entreat you graciously to accept the Kingship, to which you have been unanimously elected by the Council of Elfland: and that you will allow your son Bruno of whose goodness, cleverness, and beauty, reports have reached us--to be regarded as Heir-Apparent."
Her infernal cleverness put an obstacle I had not expected in the way of my intercepting it.
There is a type of manly valour; but valour in a woman, or unscrupulous cleverness, is inappropriate.
Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.
I omitted the troublesome business of the possession of women, and the procreation of children, and the appointment of the rulers, because I knew that the perfect State would be eyed with jealousy and was difficult of attainment; but that piece of cleverness was not of much service to me, for I had to discuss them all the same.
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.
Anatole was sincerely fond of Dolokhov for his cleverness and audacity.
He recalled his own criticisms of Tyndall of his complacent satisfaction in the cleverness of his experiments, and for his lack of philosophic insight.
These tears he interpreted as a sign of gratitude, for he told me that he had always felt assured of my good sense, cleverness, and sensibility, but that hitherto he had hesitated to take this step until he should have learned precisely how I was getting on.
It was full of a proud young mother's accounts of "baby" -- her cleverness, her brightness, her thousand sweetnesses.
She undressed and stole into bed, congratulating herself apparently on the cleverness with which she had managed her expedition.