Cunning definition

kŭnĭng
(now rare) Skillful or clever.
adjective
59
12
Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness.
adjective
49
18
Skillful in deception; sly; crafty.
adjective
23
2
(now rare) Clever proficiency; skill.
noun
15
3
Attractive or pretty in a delicate way; cute.
adjective
16
6
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Skill or adeptness in execution or performance; dexterity.
noun
18
12
Skill in deception; slyness; craftiness.
noun
8
3
Delicately pleasing; pretty or cute.

A cunning pet.

adjective
6
3
Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity.
adjective
5
2
Skill in deception; guile.
noun
5
2
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Made or done with skill or ingenuity.
adjective
5
3
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
2
0
(US, colloquial, rare) Cute, appealing.

A cunning little boy.

adjective
1
0
The natural wit or instincts of an animal.

The cunning of the fox or hare.

noun
1
0
Sly; crafty; clever in surreptitious behaviour.
adjective
1
1
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Bible, Exodus xxxviii. 23

A cunning workman.

adjective
0
0
Practical skill employed in a secret or crafty manner; craft; artifice; skillful deceit.
noun
0
0
The disposition to employ one's skill in an artful manner; craftiness; guile; artifice; skill of being cunning, sly, conniving, or deceitful.
noun
0
0
Shakespeare.

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

adjective
0
1
Practical knowledge or experience; aptitude in performance; skill, proficiency; dexterity.
noun
0
1
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
cunning
Plural:
cunnings

Adjective

Base Form:
cunning
Comparative:
cunninger
Superlative:
cunningest

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