from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Careful and shrewd, especially where one's own interests are concerned.
  • adjective Cautious in spending money; frugal.
  • adjective Steady, restrained, and gentle.
  • adjective Snug and quiet.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a canny manner; cannily; cautiously; gently; slowly.
  • A term of commendation of various application.
  • Knowing; cautious; prudent; wary; watchful; cunning; artful; crafty.
  • Skilled; handy; expert.
  • Moderate; reasonable. In expense: Frugal; not extravagant
  • In charges or exactions: Not extortionate.
  • In conduct: Not severe.
  • Quiet; easy; soft. Quiet in disposition; gentle; tractable.
  • Quiet in movement; still; slow.
  • Snug; comfortable; neat.
  • Safe; not dangerous; fortunate; lucky.
  • Good; worthy.
  • Possessed of supernatural power; skilled in magic.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Artful; cunning; shrewd; wary.
  • adjective Skillful; knowing; capable.
  • adjective Cautious; prudent; safe..
  • adjective Having pleasing or useful qualities; gentle.
  • adjective Reputed to have magical powers.
  • adjective [Scot.] not safe, not fortunate; unpropitious.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Careful, prudent, cautious.
  • adjective Knowing, shrewd, astute.
  • adjective Frugal, thrifty.
  • adjective Northumbrian Pleasant, fair.
  • adjective Northumbrian Very or much.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective showing self-interest and shrewdness in dealing with others


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From can.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Northern English dialect from can ("to know"), from Middle English can, first and third person singular of cunnen, connen ("to be able, know how to"), from Old English cunnan ("to know how to, be able to"). Compare Scots canny, Old English cann ("knowledge, assertion"). More at can, cunning.


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  • As she told Glenn Campbell on Sunday, it takes a year to pass such a Bill - more than enough time, perhaps, for a certain canny First Minister to sell his idea of independence (see the quote at the top of the page) and cash in on people's lack of confidence in the Labour Party.

    Archive 2008-05-01 2008

  • Yet "ca'canny" is a disastrous thing to the British laborer.

    The Scab 1905

  • Known as a canny businesman with a Las Vegas address, Manny was listed as the founder and CEO of Wilkins LLC and also as the bottom-line owner of

    Cruel Intent J.A. Jance 2008

  • She had stretched out a wilted hand, peering with an expression canny, severe, and resigned.

    Son of a Witch Maguire, Gregory 2005

  • Well, I do not believe there is much of a correlation, but if you really think about it, the fact that Wilson has been described as 'canny' reflects his vast magical knowledge.

    Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated' 2009

  • But I also do think that she's kind of canny, too, because I think she understands that her own celebrity right now is sort of bigger than politics.

    CNN Transcript Jul 11, 2009 2009

  • I don't think they're being "canny", just complacent.

    Going to war 2007

  • And courage is the only thing a "canny" Scot can bear to see expended without return.

    Tales from Many Sources Vol. V Various

  • Active, inquisitive, resolute, and possessing a fair share of the national _perfervidum ingenium_, not without some tincture of those elements of the Scottish character known as the "canny" and the "dour," our worker early developed that robust vigour of mind and body which has so long stood the wear and tear of severely trying work.

    God's Answers A Record of Miss Annie Macpherson's Work at the Home of Industry, Spitalfields, London, and in Canada Clara M. S. Lowe

  • On the contrary he was usually what the Scotch call a "canny" player.

    The Golf Course Mystery Chester K. Steele


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  • (adjective) - (1) A genuine Newcastle word applied to the beauty of form, as of manners and morals, but most particularly used to describe those mild and affectionate dispositions which render the persons agreeable in the domestic state.

    --John Brockett's Glossary of North Country Words, 1825

    (2) Knowing, sagacious, judicious, prudent; wary, cautious; skillful, clever, lucky; careful, frugal; endowed with occult or magical powers.

    --Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1893

    January 19, 2018