[ahrt-fuh l]


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 formsart·ful·ly, adverbart·ful·ness, nounun·art·ful, adjectiveun·art·ful·ly, adverbun·art·ful·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for artfulness

Contemporary Examples of artfulness

Historical Examples of artfulness

  • 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.


    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.

British Dictionary definitions for artfulness



cunning or tricky
skilful in achieving a desired end
archaic characterized by skill or art
archaic artificial
Derived Formsartfully, adverbartfulness, 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

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