adjective, clev·er·er, clev·er·est.
  1. mentally bright; having sharp or quick intelligence; able.
  2. superficially skillful, witty, or original in character or construction; facile: It was an amusing, clever play, but of no lasting value.
  3. showing inventiveness or originality; ingenious: His clever device was the first to solve the problem.
  4. adroit with the hands or body; dexterous or nimble.
  5. Older Use.
    1. suitable; convenient; satisfactory.
    2. good-natured.
    3. handsome.
    4. in good health.

Origin of clever

1175–1225; Middle English cliver, akin to Old English clifer claw, clife burdock. See cleavers
Related formsclev·er·ish, adjectiveclev·er·ish·ly, adverbclev·er·ly, adverbclev·er·ness, nouno·ver·clev·er, adjectiveo·ver·clev·er·ly, adverbo·ver·clev·er·ness, nounun·clev·er, adjectiveun·clev·er·ly, adverbun·clev·er·ness, noun

Synonyms for clever

Antonyms for clever

1. stupid. 4. clumsy. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cleverer

Contemporary Examples of cleverer

  • And he makes me think, well, this is one of the ways in which conservatives are cleverer and more cunning than liberals.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Beck's Lessons for Liberals

    Michael Tomasky

    June 29, 2011

  • He was cleverer than most everyone else, but he envied the carefree affluence of the rich and fatuous.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Magazine King

    Harold Evans

    May 1, 2010

Historical Examples of cleverer

  • He is a very much shrewder and cleverer man than I thought he was.'

  • Ask our mistress, the old woman; no one in the world is cleverer than she.

  • There are not many of them better looking; are there any cleverer or better informed?

  • Both were Protestants; but if Asgill was the cleverer, Payton was an officer and a gentleman.

    The Wild Geese

    Stanley John Weyman

  • Then I take it they are cleverer folk than I thought them, for they seem to have deceived you.

    Luttrell Of Arran

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for cleverer


  1. displaying sharp intelligence or mental alertness
  2. adroit or dexterous, esp with the hands
  3. smart in a superficial way
  4. British informal sly; cunning
  5. (predicative; used with a negative) dialect healthy; fit
Derived Formscleverish, adjectivecleverly, adverbcleverness, noun

Word Origin for clever

C13 cliver (in the sense: quick to seize, adroit), of uncertain origin
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 cleverer



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper