Definition of clever in English:


Line breaks: clever
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!
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    • 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
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    • 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.
  • 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
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    • 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
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    • 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 [predic., with negative] British informal Healthy or well: I was up and about by this time though still not too clever
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    • 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.



More example sentences
  • Edson's script is enormously intelligent, cleverly interweaving its diverse themes.
  • The piece is set in a school gymnasium, cleverly fashioned to achieve a certain timelessness.
  • She cleverly dodged the crowd and walked away from the stage, ignoring the requests of students.


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.

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Pronunciation: skəʊʃ
a small amount; a little