In fairy tales, always watch out for the cunning fox or the cunning witch. Cunning means clever, in the sense of trickery. A cunning plan might involve setting traps for the innocent and pure at heart to fall into.

This adjective goes back to the 14th-century English verb cunnen, which meant "to know," and is actually related to our English verb know. In earlier times, the noun was used to mean a high level of skill in using the hands. You can be cunning, but you can also use your cunning to figure out a very clever and tricky plan.

Definitions of cunning
  1. adjective
    showing inventiveness and skill
    “the cunning maneuvers leading to his success”
    synonyms: clever, ingenious
    quick or skillful or adept in action or thought
  2. adjective
    marked by skill in deception
    cunning men often pass for wise”
    synonyms: crafty, dodgy, foxy, guileful, knavish, slick, sly, tricksy, tricky, wily
    marked by skill in achieving a desired end especially with cunning or craft
  3. noun
    crafty artfulness (especially in deception)
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the quality of being adroit in taking unfair advantage
  4. noun
    shrewdness as demonstrated by being skilled in deception
    synonyms: craft, craftiness, foxiness, guile, slyness, wiliness
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    type of:
    astuteness, perspicaciousness, perspicacity, shrewdness
    intelligence manifested by being astute (as in business dealings)
  5. adjective
    attractive especially by means of smallness or prettiness or quaintness
    cunning kittens”
    “a cunning baby”
    synonyms: cute
    pleasing to the eye or mind especially through beauty or charm
Word Family

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