Definitions

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

  • adjective Mentally quick and original; bright.
  • adjective Skilled at accomplishing things, especially with the hands.
  • adjective Crafty; cunning.
  • adjective Exhibiting ingenuity or imagination; creative or artful.
  • adjective Witty; amusing.
  • adjective Characterized by cunning or shrewdness.
  • adjective New England Easily managed; docile.
  • adjective Chiefly Southern US Good-natured; amiable.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • A variant of claver.
  • Possessing skill or address; having special ability of any kind, especially such as involves quickness of intellect or mechanical dexterity; adroit. It now commonly implies the possession of ability which, though noteworthy, does not amount to genius, nor even to a high degree of talent.
  • Indicative of or exhibiting cleverness: as, a clever speech; a clever trick.
  • Well shaped; active-looking; handsome.
  • Good-natured; obliging; complaisant; possessing an agreeable mind or disposition.
  • Agreeable; pleasant; comfortable; nice: as, “these clever apartments,”
  • Synonyms Adroit, Dexterous, Expert, etc. (see adroit); ready, quick, ingenious, neat-handed, knowing, sharp, bright.

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

  • adjective Possessing quickness of intellect, skill, dexterity, talent, or adroitness; expert.
  • adjective Showing skill or adroitness in the doer or former.
  • adjective Having fitness, propriety, or suitableness.
  • adjective Well-shaped; handsome.
  • adjective United States Good-natured; obliging.

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

  • adjective Nimble with hands or body; skillful; adept.
  • adjective Resourceful, sometimes to the point of cunning.
  • adjective Smart, intelligent or witty; mentally quick or sharp.
  • adjective Showing inventiveness or originality; witty.
  • adjective anthropology Possessing magical abilities.

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

  • adjective showing inventiveness and skill
  • adjective mentally quick and resourceful
  • adjective showing self-interest and shrewdness in dealing with others

Etymologies

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

[Middle English cliver; akin to East Frisian klifer, klüfer; see gleubh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From East Anglian dialectal English cliver ("expert at seizing"), from Middle English cliver ("tenacious"), perhaps from Old English *clifer, clibbor ("clinging"), or perhaps from East Frisian (compare Saterland Frisian kluftich), or dialectal Norwegian klover ("ready, skillful"); possibly influenced by Old English clifer ("claw, hand"). Related to cleave.

Examples

  • I _should_ like to know what her estimate is, but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel _too clever_, and of finding my own story and my own people all forestalled.

    Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters A Family Record

  • - I should like to know what her Estimate is-but am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever-& of finding my own story and my own people all forestalled.

    Jane Austen's Letters To Her Sister Cassandra and Others

  • Examining the brain-imaging data, Bengtsson found that the students' brains responded differently to the mistakes they made depending on whether they were primed with the word clever or the word stupid.

    The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot: extract

  • “To you,” pursued Forcheville, “does intelligence mean what they call clever talk; you know, the sort of people who worm their way into society?”

    Swann's Way

  • Modder River, when all day long most of our men were quite unable to discover on which side of the stream the Boer entrenchments were, and in what they called clever trickery, but we called treachery, they are absolutely unsurpassable.

    With the Guards' Brigade from Bloemfontein to Koomati Poort and Back

  • "To you," pursued Forcheville, "does intelligence mean what they call clever talk; you know, the sort of people who worm their way into society?"

    Swann's Way

  • Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, though her acquaintances were chiefly in the world of fortune and of fashion, had yet a certain weakness for what she called clever people.

    Complete Project Gutenberg Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Works

  • Mrs. Clymer Ketchum, though her acquaintances were chiefly in the world of fortune and of fashion, had yet a certain weakness for what she called clever people.

    The Guardian Angel

  • It is an operation so absorbing that it often weakens those pettier talents which make what we call the clever man.

    Put Yourself in His Place

  • The father-in-law of Tallien is a banker, what you call a clever fellow; another word, says the most sensible man here, for a cheat; the court and the clergy mutually support each other, and their combined despotism is indeed dreadful, yet much is doing; Jardine is very active; he has forwarded the establishment of schools in the Asturias with his Spanish friends.

    Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey

Comments

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  • Algernon: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.

    Jack: Is that clever?

    -The Importance of Being Ernest, Oscar Wilde

    December 31, 2009