cunning

[ kuhn-ing ]
/ ˈkʌn ɪŋ /

noun

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

adjective

verb

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)
Related forms

Synonym study

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cunningness

British Dictionary definitions for cunningness

cunning

/ (ˈkʌnɪŋ) /

adjective

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

noun

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

Word Origin and History for cunningness

cunning


adj.

early 14c., "learned, skillful," present participle of cunnen "to know" (see can (v.1)). Sense of "skillfully deceitful" is probably late 14c. As a noun from c.1300. Related: Cunningly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper