She was voted “the wittiest, cleverest, and most distinctive” student in her year.
You're the cleverest creature anybody has ever met; they all say so.
We find out which is the cleverest boy by testing him at an examination.
He was the cleverest man I ever knew, and the best—except Taffy and the Laird and your dear son!
He was very proud, and it cut him that the cleverest of the family should die in jail.
You're the cleverest rogue it has been my good fortune to meet this many a day.
He was the cleverest of Chuetas, and more generous than any of them.
How can we tell who is the greatest and the cleverest among all these shrieking braggarts?
Had she not been called the cleverest woman in Europe at one time?
Though not a great man, Philip the Fair was one of the cleverest that ever lived.
1580s, "handy, dexterous," apparently from East Anglian dialectal cliver "expert at seizing," perhaps from East Frisian klüfer "skillful," or Norwegian dialectic klover "ready, skillful," and perhaps influenced by Old English clifer "claw, hand" (early usages seem to refer to dexterity). Or perhaps akin to Old Norse kleyfr "easy to split" and from a root related to cleave "to split." Extension to intellect is first recorded 1704.
This is a low word, scarcely ever used but in burlesque or conversation; and applied to any thing a man likes, without a settled meaning. [Johnson, 1755]The meaning has narrowed since, but clever also often in old use and dialect meant "well-shaped, attractive-looking" and in 19c. American English sometimes "good-natured, agreeable." Related: Cleverly; cleverness.