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.
Primary Meanings of cunning
showing inventiveness and skill
crafty artfulness (especially in deception)
attractive especially by means of smallness or prettiness or quaintness
adj showing inventiveness and skill
n crafty artfulness (especially in deception)
- Type of:
the quality of being adroit in taking unfair advantage