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canny

[kan-ee] /ˈkæn i/
adjective, cannier, canniest.
1.
careful; cautious; prudent:
a canny reply.
2.
astute; shrewd; knowing; sagacious:
a canny negotiator.
3.
skilled; expert.
4.
frugal; thrifty:
a canny housewife.
5.
Scot.
  1. safe to deal with, invest in, or work at (usually used with a negative).
  2. gentle; careful; steady.
  3. snug; cozy; comfortable.
  4. pleasing; attractive.
  5. Archaic. having supernatural or occult powers.
adverb, Also, cannily
6.
in a canny manner.
7.
Scot. carefully; cautiously.
Origin
1630-1640
1630-40; can1 + -y1
Related forms
canniness, noun
overcanny, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for canniness

canny

/ˈkænɪ/
adjective -nier, -niest
1.
shrewd, esp in business; astute or wary; knowing
2.
(Scot & Northeast English, dialect) good or nice: used as a general term of approval
3.
(Scot) lucky or fortunate
adverb
4.
(Scot & Northeast English, dialect) quite; rather: a canny long while
Derived Forms
cannily, adverb
canniness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from can1 (in the sense: to know how) + -y1
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 canniness

canny

adj.

1630s, Scottish and northern English formation from can (v.1) in its sense of "know how to," + -y (2). "Knowing," hence, "careful." A doublet of cunning that flowed into distinct senses. Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors (and their American cousins).

The Canny Scot is so well known as scarcely to require description. He carries caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomplished, he is not habitually deceitful. One thing he never loses sight of--his own interest. But of his own interest he is not the most enlightened judge. ["The Natural History of Scotsmen," in "The Argosy," December 1865]
Related: Cannily; canniness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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