Definition of clever adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈklevə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈklevər//
    (cleverer, cleverest) You can also use more clever and most clever. Clever
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  1. 1  (especially British English) quick at learning and understanding things synonym intelligent a clever child Clever girl! How clever of you to work it out! He's too clever by half, if you ask me (= it annoys me or makes me suspicious). Synonymsintelligentsmart clever brilliant brightThese words all describe people who are good at learning, understanding and thinking about things, and the actions that show this ability.intelligent good at learning, understanding and thinking in a logical way about things; showing this ability: He’s a highly intelligent man.She asked a lot of intelligent questions.smart (especially North American English) quick at learning and understanding things; showing the ability to make good business or personal decisions: She’s smarter than her brother.That was a smart career move.clever (sometimes disapproving, especially British English) quick at learning and understanding things; showing this ability: How clever of you to work it out!He’s too clever by half, if you ask me. People use clever in the phrase : Clever boy/​girl! to tell a young child that they have learnt or done something well. When used to or about an adult clever can be disapproving.brilliant extremely intelligent or skilful: He’s a brilliant young scientist.bright intelligent; quick to learn: She’s probably the brightest student in the class. Bright is used especially to talk about young people. Common collocations of bright include girl, boy, kid, student, pupil.Patterns clever/​brilliant at something a(n) intelligent/​smart/​clever/​brilliant/​bright child/​boy/​girl/​man/​woman a(n) intelligent/​smart/​clever/​brilliant thing to do See related entries: Clever
  2. 2  clever (at something) (especially British English) skilful She's clever at getting what she wants. He's clever with his hands. See related entries: Clever
  3. 3  showing intelligence or skill, for example in the design of an object, in an idea or somebody’s actions a clever little gadget What a clever idea! That wasn't very clever (= what you just did wasn't sensible), was it? Admitting her mistake may have been quite a clever move on her part.
  4. 4(British English, informal, disapproving) quick with words in a way that annoys people or does not show respect Don't you get clever with me!
  5. Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘quick to catch hold’, only recorded in this period): perhaps of Dutch or Low German origin, and related to cleave ‘to stick to something’. In the late 16th cent. the term came to mean (probably through dialect use) ‘manually skilful’; the sense ‘possessing mental agility’ dates from the early 18th cent.Extra examples I became quite clever at making tasty meals out of nothing. I’m not very clever at maths. a simple yet fiendishly clever idea clever with his hands Clever boy/​girl! He’s too clever by half, if you ask me. That wasn’t a very clever thing to do. This book is clever, without being merely clever.
Idioms (British English, informal) to act in a clever way to get what you want, sometimes tricking somebody Suzie realized that she had to box clever. She had to let Adam think she trusted him.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: clever