[ kuhn-ing ]
/ ˈkʌn ɪŋ /


skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner, as in deceiving; craftiness; guile.
adeptness in performance; dexterity: The weaver's hand lost its cunning.



Obsolete. present participle of can1.

Origin of cunning

1275–1325; (noun) Middle English; Old English cunnung, equivalent to cunn(an) to know (see can1) + -ung-ing1; (adj., v.) Middle English, present participle of cunnan to know (see can1, -ing2)

synonym study for cunning

1. Cunning, artifice, craft imply an inclination toward deceit, slyness, and trickery. Cunning implies a shrewd, often instinctive skill in concealing or disguising the real purposes of one's actions: not intelligence but a low kind of cunning. An artifice is a clever, unscrupulous ruse, used to mislead others: a successful artifice to conceal one's motives. Craft suggests underhand methods and the use of deceptive devices and tricks to attain one's ends: craft and deceitfulness in every act.

OTHER WORDS FROM cunning Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for cunning

British Dictionary definitions for cunning

/ (ˈkʌnɪŋ) /


crafty and shrewd, esp in deception; slycunning as a fox
made with or showing skill or cleverness; ingenious


craftiness, esp in deceiving; slyness
cleverness, skill, or ingenuity

Derived forms of cunning

cunningly, adverbcunningness, noun

Word Origin for cunning

Old English cunnende; related to cunnan to know (see can 1), cunnian to test, experience, Old Norse kunna to know
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