• (America) IPA: /ˈklɛvɚ/

clever (comparative cleverer, superlative cleverest)

  1. Nimble with hands or body; skillful; adept.
    • ante 1898 Francis James Child (collator), Child's Ballads, 198: "Bonny John Seton",
      The Highland men, they're clever men / At handling sword and shield,
  2. Resourceful, sometimes to the point of cunning.
    clever like a fox
    • 1890, Joseph Jacobs (collator), Molly Whuppie, English Fairy Tales,
      The youngest of the three strange lassies was called Molly Whuppie, and she was very clever. She noticed that before they went to bed the giant put straw ropes round her neck and her sisters', and round his own lassies' necks, he put gold chains. So Molly took care and did not fall asleep, but waited till she was sure every one was sleeping sound. Then she slipped out of the bed, and took the straw ropes off her own and her sisters' necks, and took the gold chains off the giant's lassies. She then put the straw ropes on the giant's lassies and the gold on herself and her sisters, and lay down.
  3. Smart, intelligent, or witty; mentally quick or sharp.
    • 19th c, Charles Kingsley, A Farewell,
      Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever; / Do noble things, not dream them all day long: / And so make life, death, and that vast forever / One grand, sweet song.
    • 1912, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Constance Garnett (translator), The Brothers Karamazov, Book V, Chapter 7: "It's Always Worth While Speaking to a Clever Man",
      I would have sent Alyosha, but what use is Alyosha in a thing like that? I send you just because you are a clever fellow. Do you suppose I don't see that? You know nothing about timber, but you've got an eye.
  4. Showing inventiveness or originality; witty.
  5. (anthropology, of an Aboriginal Australian) Possessing magical abilities.
    • 1904, Journal & Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, Vol. XXXVIII, [ page 255],
      When a clever man is out hunting and comes across the tracks of, say, a kangaroo, he follows them along and talks to the footprints all the time for the purpose of injecting magic into the animal which made them.
    • 1947, Oceania, Volumes 16-17, [,+who+were+clever%22+-intitle:%22%22&dq=%22The+two+women,+who+were+clever%22+-intitle:%22%22&hl=en&ei=zsvDTvudHqGJmQWawIjnCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAg page 330],
      Prior to this, the two women, who were “clever,” and possessed a certain amount of magical “power,” […] .
  6. (obsolete) Fit; suitable; having propriety.
    • 18th c, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope (later lines), Imitation of Horace, 1852, Charles Knight (publisher) (collator), Half-hours with the Best Authors, Volume 4, page 188 ↗,
      I can't but think 'twould sound more clever, / To me and to my heirs forever.
  7. (obsolete) Well-shaped; handsome.
    • 1712, John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull, Undated modern edition, Library of Alexandria, [,+clever+wench+as+any+was.%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi549u2sJvaAhXJh5AKHeSRDvsQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=%22The%20girl%20was%20a%20tight%2C%20clever%20wench%20as%20any%20was.%22&f=false unnumbered page],
      The girl was a tight, clever wench as any was.
  8. (US, dated) Good-natured; obliging.
  9. (UK, colloquial) Fit and healthy; free from fatigue or illness.
Synonyms Antonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations Translations
Proper noun
  1. A city in Missouri.

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