Adjective "cunning" definition and examples



Definitions and examples


Having or showing skill in achieving one's ends by deceit or evasion.
  1. 'So that was a very cunning ploy that she used.'
  2. 'Fortunately, in an effort to cheer myself up, I've devised a fiendish and cunning plan to turn myself into a local celebrity.'
  3. 'Unfortunately, the laptop didn't fall for their cunning ruse.'
  4. 'But can the governments really have been to blame for inducing irrational exuberance in the bidders through the fiendishly cunning auction processes they devised?'
  5. 'He subsequently discovers the whereabouts of the photograph by a cunning ruse.'
  6. 'Now, even if these are just sneaky sites by cunning marketers, they're working.'
  7. 'You've been tricked, the defamation of this cunning flower tricked you.'
  8. 'The lies he fed me to achieve this were cunning and elaborate, and indeed, I was fooled.'
  9. 'She's a cunning manipulator one moment, an adorably guileless charmer the next, one who tosses off winsome smiles like strike-zone fastballs.'
  10. 'What remains is a traditional case of a national paranoia being manipulated by a cunning business establishment to protect its entrenched interests.'
  11. 'plants have evolved cunning defences'
  12. 'This year the ingenious Councillor has thought up a cunning plan that will see the town's streets swept clean of dog dirt.'
  13. 'I listened intently, for he was right, his plans were very cunning.'
  14. 'A little cunning skill is obviously useful, and luck is a vital ingredient that I like to enjoy in large measure.'
  15. 'John would see my brilliant tactical plan and organize a cunning defence…'
  16. 'Tom however, through cunning reasoning skills, is able to get what he needs.'
Attractive or quaint.
  1. 'She looked so cunning with her dark green cloak setting off her green eyes.'


Skill in achieving one's ends by deceit.
  1. 'We should be working these refs with wily cunning.'
  2. 'The first embraces trickery and cunning, the second embraces manipulation and deception, with no lie being too great, no friendship not worth betraying.'
  3. 'She seemed so innocent, her previous deviousness and cunning gone in a flash.'
  4. 'They start becoming cunning, cruel, diplomatic, political.'
  5. 'If they had any skills other than devious animal cunning, they would have looked closer at the boy.'
  6. 'But the longer the half wore on the sense a tad more craft, guile or cunning was needed to break through the formidable and sizeable Shrewsbury defence grew and grew.'
  7. 'Imagine the tenacity, the motor skills, the sheer reptile cunning involved.'
  8. 'And to survive you have to negotiate it with all the cunning of a fox.'
  9. 'She showed no weakness, instead attaining her goals through cunning, skill, and brutality.'
  10. 'Only with the cunning of the fox can you extricate yourself from these grim precincts.'
  11. 'what resources of energy and cunning it took just to survive'
  12. 'He's otherwise dull, demonstrating few signs of intelligence or cunning.'
  13. 'This is considered the purest form of Poker - where more often than not, but not always, skill and cunning overcomes opportunism.'
  14. 'On the other hand, no computer could match human cunning, which was different from mere intelligence.'
  15. 'The audience is tempted to appropriate the position within the play it believes possesses the most cunning and insight into the play itself.'
  16. 'His eyes showed an intelligence and cunning totally at odds with his grandfatherly appearance.'
  17. 'Thus far, she had failed to show him either skill or cunning.'
  18. 'The latter confronts Wilde with the logic and cunning of his profession.'
  19. 'Even though she doesn't invent what she does, she has the cunning and intelligence to pick up on other people's style so immediately that it's like she thought of it.'
  20. 'This time she must seem the forlorn victim, with no resources of sinew or cunning to save her - only the kindness of strangers.'


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 .

More examples(as adjective)

"people can be cunning in ways."

"people can be cunning for nuanceses."

"people can be cunning as foxes."

"people can be cunning."

"ploys can be cunning."

More examples++


Middle English: perhaps from Old Norse kunnandi ‘knowledge’, from kunna ‘know’ (related to can), or perhaps from Middle English cunne, an obsolete variant of can. The original sense was ‘(possessing) erudition or skill’ and had no implication of deceit; the sense ‘deceitfulness’ dates from late Middle English.