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[klev-er] /ˈklɛv ər/
adjective, cleverer, cleverest.
mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
superficially skillful, witty, or original in character or construction; facile:
It was an amusing, clever play, but of no lasting value.
showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious:
His clever device was the first to solve the problem.
adroit with the hands or body; dexterous or nimble.
Older Use.
  1. suitable; convenient; satisfactory.
  2. good-natured.
  3. handsome.
  4. in good health.
1175-1225; Middle English cliver, akin to Old English clifer claw, clife burdock. See cleavers
Related forms
cleverish, adjective
cleverishly, adverb
cleverly, adverb
cleverness, noun
overclever, adjective
overcleverly, adverb
overcleverness, noun
unclever, adjective
uncleverly, adverb
uncleverness, noun
1. ingenious, talented, quick-witted; smart, gifted; apt, expert. 4. skillful, agile, handy.
1. stupid. 4. clumsy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for clever
  • But he also joined a gift for quick, clever, complex dialogue with a brilliant comedic physicality.
  • Raccoons are particularly nasty, and they're particularly clever about using their little nasty hands to get into your coop.
  • But several clever experiments have tested people's memory immediately after a tragedy and again several months or years later.
  • clever writers who start fashions in the literary world should take account of this secrecy of the reader's position.
  • She seems good-humoured and clever, and will keep him in order, perhaps.
  • In a clever twist of nature, the sea has eyes in its stars.
  • These clever animals are also sometimes spotted following fishing boats in hopes of dining on leftovers.
  • At the core of the reactor's safety is a clever fuel design.
  • Some tornado chasers think of it as a clever computer game come to life.
  • Because of the clever structuring of the financial instruments, the supply of lending capital was nearly limitless.
British Dictionary definitions for clever


displaying sharp intelligence or mental alertness
adroit or dexterous, esp with the hands
smart in a superficial way
(Brit, informal) sly; cunning
(predicative; used with a negative) (dialect) healthy; fit
Derived Forms
cleverish, adjective
cleverly, adverb
cleverness, noun
Word Origin
C13 cliver (in the sense: quick to seize, adroit), of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for clever
c.1590, from E.Anglian dial. cliver "expert at seizing," probably from E.Fris. klufer or Norwegian dialectic klover "ready, skillful," perhaps infl. by O.E. clifer "claw, hand" (early usages seem to refer to dexterity); extension to intellect is first recorded 1704.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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