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[ahrt-fuh l] /ˈɑrt fəl/
slyly crafty or cunning; deceitful; tricky:
artful schemes.
skillful or clever in adapting means to ends; ingenious:
an artful choice of metaphors and similes.
done with or characterized by art or skill:
artful acting; artful repairs.
Archaic. artificial.
Origin of artful
First recorded in 1605-15; art1 + -ful
Related forms
artfully, adverb
artfulness, noun
unartful, adjective
unartfully, adverb
unartfulness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for artfulness
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • With the artfulness that comes of years, 'I'm glad you tell her everything.'

    Echoes of the War J. M. Barrie
  • That manner of his to us, this asking no questions, is some more of his artfulness.

    Victory Joseph Conrad
  • The poor queen was destined to suffer from the artfulness of her maid.

  • He has an astonishing amount of artfulness and unblushing impudence.

    Tom, The Bootblack Horatio Alger
  • Jen felt the artfulness of this, nevertheless she could not help being touched.

    The Dew of Their Youth S. R. Crockett
  • That may have been his artfulness, to keep us from searching.

    Cutlass and Cudgel George Manville Fenn
  • The wretched fellow had cursed a thousand times his own artfulness.

    A Dog with a Bad Name Talbot Baines Reed
  • The propriety and artfulness of Homer's speeches have been often and justly admired.

    The Lusiad Lus de Cames
  • The double description is used as it is a calling full of artfulness and craft.

    '19,000' Burford Delannoy
British Dictionary definitions for artfulness


cunning or tricky
skilful in achieving a desired end
(archaic) characterized by skill or art
(archaic) artificial
Derived Forms
artfully, adverb
artfulness, noun
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 artfulness



1610s, "learned, well-versed in the (liberal) arts," also "characterized by technical skill," from art (n.) + -ful. Meaning "skilled in adapting means to ends" is from 1739. Related: Artfully; artfulness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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