- The definition of cunning is something done with ingenuity or clever deception.
An example of cunning is the way a racoon gets into a closed garbage can.
- Now Rare skillful or clever
- skillful in deception; sly; crafty
- made or done with skill or ingenuity
- ☆ attractive or pretty in a delicate way; cute
Origin of cunningMiddle English having skill, knowing ; from present participle of cunnen, to know: see can
- Now Rare clever proficiency; skill
- skill in deception; slyness; craftiness
- Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness.
- Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity.
- Delicately pleasing; pretty or cute: a cunning pet.
- Skill in deception; guile.
- Skill or adeptness in execution or performance; dexterity.
Origin of cunningMiddle English, present participle of connen, to know, from Old English cunnan; see gnō- in Indo-European roots.
(comparative more cunning, superlative most cunning)
From Middle English cunning, kunning, konnyng, alteration of earlier Middle English cunninde, kunnende, cunnand, from Old English cunnende, present participle of cunnan (“to know how to, be able to”), equivalent to con + -ing. Cognate with Scots cunnand (“cunning”), German dialectal könnend (“cunning”), Icelandic kunnandi (“cunning”). More at con, can.
- Practical knowledge or experience; aptitude in performance; skill, proficiency; dexterity.
- Practical skill employed in a secret or crafty manner; craft; artifice; skillful deceit.
- The disposition to employ one's skill in an artful manner; craftiness; guile; artifice; skill of being cunning, sly, conniving, or deceitful.
- The natural wit or instincts of an animal.
- the cunning of the fox or hare
From Middle English cunning, kunnyng, partially from Old English *cunning (verbal noun), from cunnan (“to know how to, be able to”); partially from Old English cunnung (“knowledge, trial, probation, experience, contact, carnal knowledge”), from cunnian (“to search into, try, test, seek for, explore, investigate, experience, have experience of, to make trial of, know”), equivalent to con + -ing.