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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 cleverness
  • cleverness on the part of the sender is then the important factor, not reliance on ingenuity of the recipient.
  • Of course, it does require some real cleverness sometimes to figure out the right things to measure, and even how to record them.
  • Found throughout the world, the resourceful red fox is known for its cleverness and adaptability.
  • Of real poetical quality it has little, but abundant technical cleverness.
  • But his animal spirits supply, to a certain degree, the place of cleverness.
  • The approaches embody some of science's great virtues: foresight, patience and cleverness.
  • At this point the three mathematicians' cleverness becomes evident.
  • Mortgage, this was called, a piece of banker's cleverness that sounded good to many.
  • Besides the undeniable cleverness, there is some deeper metaphorical message here.
  • The cleverness of the response is that it says the exact opposite of what it means.
British Dictionary definitions for cleverness


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 cleverness
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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