- mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
- superficially skillful, witty, or original in character or construction; facile: It was an amusing, clever play, but of no lasting value.
- showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious: His clever device was the first to solve the problem.
- adroit with the hands or body; dexterous or nimble.
- Older Use.
Origin of clever
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for cleverness
So he runs off for freedom and is done in by his own cleverness.The Shocking ‘Fargo’ Finale: Creator Noah Hawley Breaks Down the Epic Bloodbath
June 18, 2014
The more important smell test is one of tone: that cocktail of cleverness, warmth, and mania that marked the Henson years.Bad Jokes and Silent Kids: How You Know Something Is Very Wrong With Muppets Most Wanted
March 28, 2014
My “clever” idea left without the need for cleverness in the writing; I even included a reunion ending.Boys Don’t Cry: In Praise of Sentiment
Andrew Sean Greer
June 26, 2013
The story is a classic of doggedness, cleverness, and a little luck.New Thai-Taiwanese Syndrome Is Not AIDS 2.0
August 26, 2012
You know, his cleverness makes capital markets more efficient.Ghouls of Wall Street
April 20, 2010
Often enough these innovations were not due to the cleverness of man's brain.Ancient Man
Hendrik Willem van Loon
After all, Mary was only a woman, despite her cleverness, and with all a woman's timidity.Within the Law
"That's just where your cleverness will come in," suavely answered Crane.Thoroughbreds
W. A. Fraser
And by Jupiter, with a kind of cleverness in him too that would astonish you!'Little Dorrit
This woman enjoyed the same sort of exultation in her own cleverness.Roden's Corner
Henry Seton Merriman
- displaying sharp intelligence or mental alertness
- adroit or dexterous, esp with the hands
- smart in a superficial way
- British informal sly; cunning
- (predicative; used with a negative) dialect healthy; fit
Word Origin and History for cleverness
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.