- careful; cautious; prudent: a canny reply.
- astute; shrewd; knowing; sagacious: a canny negotiator.
- skilled; expert.
- frugal; thrifty: a canny housewife.
- safe to deal with, invest in, or work at (usually used with a negative).
- gentle; careful; steady.
- snug; cozy; comfortable.
- pleasing; attractive.
- Archaic.having supernatural or occult powers.
- in a canny manner.
- Scot. carefully; cautiously.
Origin of canny
Examples from the Web for canniness
Malcolm, with the canniness of his kind, at once told her he had had no luck.Labrador Days
Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
A dog is singularly destitute in what is called in Scotland, canniness.Cats
W. Gordon Stables
Carson, with the canniness so characteristic of the American, was not to be so easily convinced.The Wolf Cub
It was in the morning that the landlady showed her canniness.Our Journey to the Hebrides
Joseph Pennell and Elizabeth Robins Pennell
He gave a remarkable proof of his canniness in the successful outcome of his bargaining with the trustees of the British Museum.
- shrewd, esp in business; astute or wary; knowing
- Scot and Northeast English dialect good or nice: used as a general term of approval
- Scot lucky or fortunate
- Scot and Northeast English dialect quite; rathera canny long while
Word Origin and History for canniness
1630s, Scottish and northern English formation from can (v.1) in its sense of "know how to," + -y (2). "Knowing," hence, "careful." A doublet of cunning that flowed into distinct senses. Often used superciliously of Scots by their southern neighbors (and their American cousins).
The Canny Scot is so well known as scarcely to require description. He carries caution, cunning, and selfishness to excess. Deceitful when a purpose is to be accomplished, he is not habitually deceitful. One thing he never loses sight of--his own interest. But of his own interest he is not the most enlightened judge. ["The Natural History of Scotsmen," in "The Argosy," December 1865]
Related: Cannily; canniness.