Cunning meaning

kŭnĭng
Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness.
adjective
21
9
Skillful or clever.
adjective
18
2
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.

adjective
14
10
The natural wit or instincts of an animal.

The cunning of the fox or hare.

noun
11
6
Skill or adeptness in execution or performance; dexterity.
noun
9
6
Advertisement
Skillful in deception; sly; crafty.
adjective
6
1
Sly; crafty; clever in surreptitious behaviour.
adjective
6
2
Clever proficiency; skill.
noun
5
1
Attractive or pretty in a delicate way; cute.
adjective
5
2
Skill in deception; slyness; craftiness.
noun
4
1
Advertisement
Bible, Exodus xxxviii. 23

A cunning workman.

adjective
4
1
Shakespeare.

Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white / Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on.

adjective
4
1
(US, colloquial, rare) Cute, appealing.

A cunning little boy.

adjective
4
1
Practical knowledge or experience; aptitude in performance; skill, proficiency; dexterity.
noun
4
1
Practical skill employed in a secret or crafty manner; craft; artifice; skillful deceit.
noun
4
1
Advertisement
Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity.
adjective
4
2
Delicately pleasing; pretty or cute.

A cunning pet.

adjective
4
2
Skill in deception; guile.
noun
4
2
Made or done with skill or ingenuity.
adjective
4
2
The disposition to employ one's skill in an artful manner; craftiness; guile; artifice; skill of being cunning, sly, conniving, or deceitful.
noun
4
2
Advertisement

Origin of cunning

  • Middle English present participle of connen to know from Old English cunnan gnō- in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • 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.

    From Wiktionary

  • 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.

    From Wiktionary