What does cunning mean?

Definitions for cunning
ˈkʌn ɪŋcun·ning

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word cunning.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. craft, craftiness, cunning, foxiness, guile, slyness, wilinessnoun

    shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception

  2. cunningadjective

    crafty artfulness (especially in deception)

  3. cunning, cuteadjective

    attractive especially by means of smallness or prettiness or quaintness

    "a cute kid with pigtails"; "a cute little apartment"; "cunning kittens"; "a cunning baby"

  4. crafty, cunning, dodgy, foxy, guileful, knavish, slick, sly, tricksy, tricky, wilyadjective

    marked by skill in deception

    "cunning men often pass for wise"; "deep political machinations"; "a foxy scheme"; "a slick evasive answer"; "sly as a fox"; "tricky Dick"; "a wily old attorney"

  5. clever, cunning, ingeniousadjective

    showing inventiveness and skill

    "a clever gadget"; "the cunning maneuvers leading to his success"; "an ingenious solution to the problem"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. CUNNINGadjective

    Etymology: from connan, Sax. konnen, Dut. to know.

    Schoolmasters will I keep within my house,
    Fit to instruct her youth. —— To cunning men
    I will be very kind; and liberal
    To mine own children, in good bringing up. William Shakespeare.

    I do present you with a man of mine,
    Cunning in musick and the mathematicks,
    To instruct her fully in those sciences. William Shakespeare.

    Wherein is he good, but to taste sack and drink it? Wherein neat and cleanly, but to carve a capon and eat it? Wherein cunning, but in craft? Wherein crafty, but in villainy? Wherein villainous, but in all things? Wherein worthy, but in nothing. William Shakespeare, Henry IV. p. i.

    Send me now therefore a man cunning to work in gold, and in silver, and that can skill to cut and to grave. 2 Chron. ii. 7.

    When Pedro does the lute command,
    She guides the cunning artist’s hand. Matthew Prior.

    And over them Arachne high did lift
    Her cunning web, and spread her subtile net,
    Enwrapped in foul smoak, and clouds more black than jet. Edmund Spenser, Fairy Queen, b. ii. cant. 7. stan. 28.

    And there beside of marble stone was built
    An altar, carv’d with cunning imagery;
    On which true Christians blood was often spilt,
    And holy martyrs often done to die. Edmund Spenser, Fairy Queen.

    Once put out thy light,
    Thou cunning’st pattern of excelling nature,
    I know not where is that Promethean heat
    That can thy light relumine. William Shakespeare, Othello.

    Men will leave truth and misery to such as love it; they are resolved to be cunning: let others run the hazard of being sincere. Robert South, Sermons.

    The more he protested, the more his father thought he dissembled, accounting his integrity to be but a cunning face of falshood. Philip Sidney, b. ii.

  2. Cunningnoun

    Etymology: cunninge, Saxon.

    What if I be not so much the poet, as even that miserable subject of his cunning, whereof you speak. Philip Sidney.

    We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom; and certainly there is great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty, but in point of ability. Francis Bacon, Essay 23.

    These small wares and petty points of cunning are infinite, and it were a good deed to make a list of them; for nothing doth more hurt than that cunning men pass for wise. Francis Bacon.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Cunningadjective

    knowing; skillful; dexterous

  2. Cunningadjective

    wrought with, or exhibiting, skill or ingenuity; ingenious; curious; as, cunning work

  3. Cunningadjective

    crafty; sly; artful; designing; deceitful

  4. Cunningadjective

    pretty or pleasing; as, a cunning little boy

  5. Cunningadjective

    knowledge; art; skill; dexterity

  6. Cunningadjective

    the faculty or act of using stratagem to accomplish a purpose; fraudulent skill or dexterity; deceit; craft

  7. Etymology: [AS. cunnung trial, or Icel. kunnandi knowledge. See Cunning, a.]


  1. Cunning

    Cunning was a Japanese comedy duo from Fukuoka Prefecture. Cunning consisted of the pudgy, short-tempered Takanori Takeyama, and the rail-thin Tadayuki Nakashima. Known for his bursts of extreme anger, though said to be much more sedated off-camera, Takeyama is the boke of the unit. The tsukkomi, Nakashima, fell ill with leukemia in 2005 and took indefinite leave from work until his death from pneumonia on December 20, 2006, aged 35. The name of the duo, cunning, while meaning "sly" or "clever" in English, refers to the act of cheating on a test in Japanese.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Cunning

    kun′ing, adj. knowing: skilful: artful: crafty.—n. knowledge: skill: faculty of using stratagem to accomplish a purpose: artifice.—adv. Cunn′ingly.—n. Cunn′ingness, quality of being cunning: artfulness, slyness. [A.S. cunnan, to know.]

Editors Contribution

  1. cunning


    Submitted by raulesparza6634 on September 23, 2019  

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How to pronounce cunning?

How to say cunning in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of cunning in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of cunning in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of cunning in a Sentence

  1. unknown:

    Knowledge without justice ought to be called cunning rather than wisdom.

  2. Charles de Gaulle:

    The perfection preached in the Gospels never yet built up an empire. Every man of action has a strong dose of egotism, pride, hardness, and cunning. But all those things will be forgiven him, indeed, they will be regarded as high qualities, if he can make of them the means to achieve great ends.

  3. Behnam Ben Taleblu:

    Once again, the critics of Trumps Iran policy are wrong. There was no WW3 after the removal of the Islamic Republics most important military official from the battlefield, four months since that game-changing strike, Irans proxy network continues to operate, but without the charismatic and cunning terrorist who coordinated their efforts. Now is the time to ramp up the pressure on this network.

  4. Tatyana Omelchenko:

    They don't love us here. They think we do all these bad things, that we are cunning and wicked, there is definitely an anti-Russian atmosphere. We don't think it, we feel it.

  5. Bob Good:

    The crafty, the most cunning, most dangerous ones are trying to evade apprehension and they’re estimating tens of thousands of those on a monthly basis as well, and all of it controlled…by the Mexican crime cartels who are making hundreds of millions of dollars a month off of this.

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Translations for cunning

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • изкусен, коварен, лукав, сръчност, сръчен, лукавство, коварство, умениеBulgarian
  • murri, astutCatalan, Valencian
  • geschickt, gewandt, schlau, Gerissenheit, listig, gerissenGerman
  • ruzaEsperanto
  • astutoSpanish
  • مکار, حیله گری, رندPersian
  • taitava, kierous, kiero, taitavuus, ovela, oveluusFinnish
  • sournoiserie, fourberie, rusé, talentueuxFrench
  • glicIrish
  • seòltaScottish Gaelic
  • csalafinta, cseles, alattomos, ravasz, ügyes, dörzsöltHungarian
  • խորամանկArmenian
  • furberia, astuto, furbo, ingegnoso, furbiziaItalian
  • עַרמוּמִיHebrew
  • 狡猾, 巧妙Japanese
  • 교활한Korean
  • callidusLatin
  • geslepen, bedreven, list en bedrog, handig, doortrapt, sluwheid, leep, sluw, kundigheidDutch
  • snedighetNorwegian
  • sprytnyPolish
  • astuto, espertoPortuguese
  • priceput, viclean, capacitate, șiret, viclenieRomanian
  • умение, коварный, хитрость, искусный, пронырливый, ловкий, хитрый, лукавый, дошлый, коварство, умелый, искусствоRussian
  • prefíkaný, chytrý, mazanýSlovak
  • listig, slug, slughet, listSwedish
  • కపటము, నేర్పరి, తరహాTelugu
  • ฉลาดแกมโกงThai
  • khéo léoVietnamese

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