cunning

[kuhn-ing]
noun
1.
skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile.
2.
adeptness in performance; dexterity: The weaver's hand lost its cunning.
adjective
3.
showing or made with ingenuity.
4.
artfully subtle or shrewd; crafty; sly.
5.
Informal. charmingly cute or appealing: a cunning little baby.
6.
Archaic. skillful; expert.
verb
7.
Obsolete. present participle of can1.

Origin:
1275–1325; (noun) Middle English; Old English cunnung, equivalent to cunn(an) to know (see can1) + -ung -ing1; (adj., v.) Middle English, present participle of cunnan to know (see can1, -ing2)

cunningly, adverb
cunningness, noun
overcunning, adjective
overcunningly, adverb
overcunningness, noun
quasi-cunning, adjective
quasi-cunningly, adverb


1. shrewdness, artfulness, wiliness, trickery, finesse, intrigue, slyness, deception. Cunning, artifice, craft imply an inclination toward deceit, slyness, and trickery. Cunning implies a shrewd, often instinctive skill in concealing or disguising the real purposes of one's actions: not intelligence but a low kind of cunning. An artifice is a clever, unscrupulous ruse, used to mislead others: a successful artifice to conceal one's motives. Craft suggests underhand methods and the use of deceptive devices and tricks to attain one's ends: craft and deceitfulness in every act. 2. adroitness. 3. ingenious, skillful. 4. artful, wily, tricky, foxy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged

can

1 [kan; unstressed kuhn]
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could.
1.
to be able to; have the ability, power, or skill to: She can solve the problem easily, I'm sure.
2.
to know how to: He can play chess, although he's not particularly good at it.
3.
to have the power or means to: A dictator can impose his will on the people.
4.
to have the right or qualifications to: He can change whatever he wishes in the script.
5.
may; have permission to: Can I speak to you for a moment?
6.
to have the possibility: A coin can land on either side.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could; imperative can; infinitive can; past participle could; present participle cunning.
7.
Obsolete. to know.

Origin:
before 900; Middle English, Old English, present indicative singular 1st, 3rd person of cunnan to know, know how; cognate with German, Old Norse, Gothic kann; see ken, know

can, may, shall, will (see usage note at the current entry)(see usage note at shall)(see synonym study at will).


Can1 and may1 are frequently but not always interchangeable in senses indicating possibility: A power failure can (or may) occur at any time. Despite the insistence by some, that can means only “to be able” and may means “to be permitted,” both are regularly used in seeking or granting permission: Can (or May) I borrow your tape recorder? You can (or may) use it tomorrow. Sentences using can occur chiefly in spoken English. May in this sense occurs more frequently in formal contexts: May I address the court, Your Honor? In negative constructions, can't or cannot is more common than may not: You can't have it today. I need it myself. The contraction mayn't is rare.
Can but and cannot but are formal and now somewhat old-fashioned expressions suggesting that there is no possible alternative to doing something. Can but is equivalent to can only: We can but do our best. Cannot but is the equivalent of cannot help but: We cannot but protest against these injustices. See also cannot, help.

can

2 [kan]
noun
1.
a sealed container for food, beverages, etc., as of aluminum, sheet iron coated with tin, or other metal: a can of soup.
2.
a receptacle for garbage, ashes, etc.: a trash can.
3.
a bucket, pail, or other container for holding or carrying liquids: water can.
4.
a drinking cup; tankard.
5.
a metal or plastic container for holding film on cores or reels.
6.
Slang: Usually Vulgar. toilet; bathroom.
7.
Slang. jail: He's been in the can for a week.
8.
Slang: Sometimes Vulgar. buttocks.
9.
Military Slang.
a.
a depth charge.
b.
a destroyer.
verb (used with object), canned, canning.
10.
to preserve by sealing in a can, jar, etc.
11.
Slang. to dismiss; fire.
12.
Slang. to throw (something) away.
13.
Slang. to put a stop to: Can that noise!
14.
to record, as on film or tape.
Idioms
15.
carry the can, British and Canadian Slang. to take the responsibility.
16.
in the can, recorded on film; completed: The movie is in the can and ready for release.

Origin:
before 1000; Middle English, Old English canne, cognate with German Kanne, Old Norse kanna, all perhaps < West Germanic; compare Late Latin canna small vessel

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
can1 (kæn, (unstressed) kən)
 
vb (takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive) , past could
1.  used as an auxiliary to indicate ability, skill, or fitness to perform a task: I can run a mile in under four minutes
2.  used as an auxiliary to indicate permission or the right to something: can I have a drink?
3.  used as an auxiliary to indicate knowledge of how to do something: he can speak three languages fluently
4.  used as an auxiliary to indicate the possibility, opportunity, or likelihood: my trainer says I can win the race if I really work hard
 

can2 (kæn)
 
n
1.  a container, esp for liquids, usually of thin sheet metal: a petrol can; beer can
2.  another name (esp US) for tin
3.  Also called: canful the contents of a can or the amount a can will hold
4.  a slang word for prison
5.  (US), (Canadian) See toilet a slang word for toilet or buttocks
6.  (US) navy a slang word for destroyer
7.  slang navy a depth charge
8.  a shallow cylindrical metal container of varying size used for storing and handling film
9.  informal can of worms a complicated problem
10.  carry the can See carry
11.  in the can
 a.  (of a film, piece of music, etc) having been recorded, processed, edited, etc
 b.  informal arranged or agreed: the contract is almost in the can
 
vb , cans, canning, canned
12.  to put (food, etc) into a can or cans; preserve in a can
13.  slang (US) (tr) to dismiss from a job
14.  informal (US) (tr) to stop (doing something annoying or making an annoying noise) (esp in the phrase can it!)
15.  informal (tr) to reject or discard
 
[Old English canne; related to Old Norse, Old High German kanna, Irish gann, Swedish kana sled]

cunning (ˈkʌnɪŋ)
 
adj
1.  crafty and shrewd, esp in deception; sly: cunning as a fox
2.  made with or showing skill or cleverness; ingenious
 
n
3.  craftiness, esp in deceiving; slyness
4.  cleverness, skill, or ingenuity
 
[Old English cunnende; related to cunnan to know (see can1), cunnian to test, experience, Old Norse kunna to know]
 
'cunningly
 
adv
 
'cunningness
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

cunning
early 14c., prp. of cunnen "to know" (see can (v.)). Originally meaning "learned;" the sense of "skillfully deceitful" is probably 14c.

can
O.E. 1st & 3rd pers. sing. pres. indic. of cunnan "know, have power to, be able," (also "to have carnal knowledge"), from P.Gmc. *kunnan "to be mentally able, to have learned" (cf. O.N. kenna "to know, make known," O.Fris. kanna "to recognize, admit," Ger. kennen "to know," Goth. kannjan "to make known"),
from PIE base *gno- (see know). Absorbing the third sense of "to know," that of "to know how to do something" (in addition to "to know as a fact" and "to be acquainted with" something or someone). An O.E. preterite-present verb, its original p.p., couth, survives only in its negation (see uncouth), but cf. could. The prp. has spun off as cunning.

can
O.E. canne "a cup, container," from P.Gmc. *kanna (cf. O.S., O.N., Swed. kanna, M.Du. kanne, Du. kan, O.H.G. channa, Ger. Kanne), probably an early borrowing from L.L. canna "container, vessel," from L. canna "reed," also "reed pipe, small boat;" but the sense evolution is difficult. Modern "air-tight
vessel of tinned iron" is from 1867 (can-opener is from 1877). Slang meaning "toilet" is c.1900, said to be a shortening of piss-can. Meaning "buttocks" is from c.1910. The verb meaning "to put up in cans" is attested from 1871; that of "to fire an employee" is from 1905. Related: Canning. Canned "pre-recorded" first attested 1904.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
CAN
cancer (constellation)
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Dozens of preeminent bank robbers and thieves sought her business, and she
  mentored those who displayed exceptional cunning.
We can recognize their depravity, but it is their cunning that ought to concern
  us.
The rewards for this bravery and cunning are accolades and bricks, sometimes
  both, and no good deed goes unpunished.
With six billion people in the world, there's no predicting what some cunning
  fanatic or narcissistic despot might do.
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