Definition of clever in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈklɛvə/

adjective (cleverer, cleverest)

1Quick to understand, learn, and devise or apply ideas; intelligent: she was an extremely clever and studious young woman how clever of him to think of this!
More example sentences
  • Jo was clever, cunning, intelligent, very quick, and could see things which other people couldn't.
  • This was an interesting idea and it was very clever of Serocath to come up with it.
  • ‘It was very clever of him to go for part-ownership of Canova's The Three Graces,’ says another critic.
intelligent, bright, smart, brilliant;
talented, gifted, precocious;
capable, able, competent, apt, proficient;
educated, learned, erudite, academic, bookish, knowledgeable, wise, sagacious
informal brainy, genius
1.1Skilled at doing or achieving something; talented: he was very clever at getting what he wanted both Grandma and Mother were clever with their hands
More example sentences
  • You are youthful, intense and clever at work to achieve goals and success in a tough assignment.
  • There aren't many that can compete physically with big Brian Irvine but Flo is so clever with the ball at his feet that the need for a physical contest is almost non-existent.
  • Women have become incredibly clever at explaining these choices in ways that barely mention social pressures or male desires.
skilful, dexterous, adroit, deft, nimble, nimble-fingered, handy, adept;
skilled, talented
1.2Showing skill and originality; ingenious: a simple but clever idea for helping people learn computing he taught the dog to perform some very clever tricks
More example sentences
  • I saw nothing original or clever or ingenious about this film.
  • It was a clever and original fundraising idea that offered people a challenge.
  • We must always remember that what lures people here is the prospect of original and clever ideas.
shrewd, astute, sharp, acute, quick, sharp-witted, quick-witted;
ingenious, resourceful, canny, cunning, crafty, artful, wily, slick, neat
informal foxy, savvy
British informal fly
Scottish & Northern English informal pawky
North American informal as sharp as a tack, cute, whip-smart
1.3 [usually with negative] informal Sensible; well advised: Joe had a feeling it wasn’t too clever, leaving Dolly alone
More example sentences
  • The view expressed by Mr. Winer, and to a lesser extent Dr. Grant, is often considered very clever and sensible.
  • This is not as clever as it sounds, because Teazers stocks a comprehensive range of men's deodorants in their bathrooms.
  • Then Chicken Little crying wolf won't look like such a clever strategy, will it?
2 [predicative, with negative] British informal Healthy or well: I was up and about by this time though still not too clever
More example sentences
  • If you're feeling not too clever for some reason, stick on some music - it helps!
  • After several midnight loo dashes we woke up on Tuesday morning feeling not too clever.
  • I didn't feel too clever driving back either, but managed to avoid passing out on the M1 and got us all back safely.


too clever by half

informal (Of a person) annoyingly proud of their intelligence or skill, and liable to overreach themselves: he always was too clever by half
More example sentences
  • Too often the band's lush harmonies and soothing guitars are accompanied by an annoying tendency to be too clever by half.
  • The only problem with such a bright Artificial Intelligence is that it would be too clever by half.
  • But policymakers are too clever by half to grasp it.


Middle English (in the sense 'quick to catch hold', only recorded in this period): perhaps of Dutch or Low German origin, and related to cleave2. In the late 16th century the term came to mean (probably through dialect use) 'manually skilful'; the sense 'possessing mental agility' dates from the early 18th century.

Words that rhyme with clever

endeavour (US endeavor), ever, forever, however, howsoever, never, never-never, sever, Trevor, whatever, whatsoever, whenever, whensoever, wheresoever, wherever, whichever, whichsoever, whoever, whomever, whomsoever, whosoever

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: clever

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