She was voted “the wittiest, cleverest, and most distinctive” student in her year.
You're the cleverest creature anybody has ever met; they all say so.
And now in the cleverest manner he has got into an impossible place.
He was the cleverest man I ever knew, and the best—except Taffy and the Laird and your dear son!
Remember that you are dealing with the cleverest and maddest brain we know of to-day.
You're the cleverest rogue it has been my good fortune to meet this many a day.
These should have been reserved for the cleverest, the flower of the community.
How can we tell who is the greatest and the cleverest among all these shrieking braggarts?
The cleverest thieves were the most respected members of the tribe.
Though not a great man, Philip the Fair was one of the cleverest that ever lived.
1580s, "handy, dexterous," apparently from East Anglian dialectal cliver "expert at seizing," perhaps from East Frisian klüfer "skillful," or Norwegian dialectic klover "ready, skillful," and perhaps influenced by Old English clifer "claw, hand" (early usages seem to refer to dexterity). Or perhaps akin to Old Norse kleyfr "easy to split" and from a root related to cleave "to split." Extension to intellect is first recorded 1704.
This is a low word, scarcely ever used but in burlesque or conversation; and applied to any thing a man likes, without a settled meaning. [Johnson, 1755]The meaning has narrowed since, but clever also often in old use and dialect meant "well-shaped, attractive-looking" and in 19c. American English sometimes "good-natured, agreeable." Related: Cleverly; cleverness.