Origin of cunning
Definition for cunning (2 of 3)
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could.
verb (used with or without object), present singular 1st person can, 2nd can or (Archaic) canst, 3rd can, present plural can; past singular 1st person could, 2nd could or (Archaic) couldst, 3rd could, past plural could; imperative can; infinitive can; past participle could; present participle cun·ning.
Origin of can1
Can but and cannot but are formal and now somewhat old-fashioned expressions suggesting that there is no possible alternative to doing something. Can but is equivalent to can only : We can but do our best. Cannot but is the equivalent of cannot help but : We cannot but protest against these injustices. See also cannot, help.
Definition for cunning (3 of 3)
- a depth charge.
- a destroyer.
verb (used with object), canned, can·ning.
Origin of can2
Examples from the Web for cunning
“Ben, who was as cunning and seductive as Diane, really wooed Diane,” says an insider.Katie Couric on Diane Sawyer: 'I Wonder Who She Blew This Time'|Lloyd Grove|August 27, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Cersei is cunning, focused, and power-hungry—not unlike her father and brothers.The Abused Wives of Westeros: A Song of Feminism in ‘Game of Thrones’|Amy Zimmerman|April 30, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But Daniel Day-Lewis is splendid as Lincoln, and Sally Field almost as good as the cunning, half-mad Mary.Making Lincoln Sexy: Jerome Charyn’s Fictional President|Tom LeClair|March 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Children are not idealized: they are resourceful but prickly, cunning but confused.Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’: An Anime Icon Bows Out|Andrew Romano|November 15, 2013|DAILY BEAST
Perhaps this isn't a cunning strategy, but the failure to form one.
The remote ancestors of the fox or of the crow were doubtless less shrewd and cunning than the crows and the foxes of to-day.Ways of Nature|John Burroughs
And the cunning one made money and became rich—very rich—so rich that he thought himself far too good for the village.Old Peter's Russian Tales|Arthur Ransome
The cunning of his nature rose uppermost; he spoke to her low and earnestly.Norston's Rest|Ann S. Stephens
As it is, the two symbols are welded together not without strength and cunning of hand.William Blake|Algernon Charles Swinburne
The box was again locked and lowered; and presently the spider returned to find that his cunning trap had been totally destroyed.The Million Dollar Mystery|Harold MacGrath
British Dictionary definitions for cunning (1 of 3)
Derived Formscunningly, adverbcunningness, noun
Word Origin for cunning
British Dictionary definitions for cunning (2 of 3)
verb past could (takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive) (intr)
Word Origin for can
British Dictionary definitions for cunning (3 of 3)
- (of a film, piece of music, etc) having been recorded, processed, edited, etc
- informal arranged or agreedthe contract is almost in the can
verb cans, canning or canned
Word Origin for can
Idioms and Phrases with cunning
In addition to the idioms beginning with can
- can do with
- canned laughter
- can of worms
- as best one can
- before you can say Jack Robinson
- bite off more than one can chew
- carry the can
- catch as catch can
- game that two can play
- get the ax (can)
- in the can
- more than one can shake a stick at
- no can do
- you can bet your ass
- you can lead a horse to water
- you can say that again
- you never can tell
Also see undercan't.