cunning


From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Cunning \Cun"ning\ (k[u^]n"n[i^]ng), a. [AS. cunnan to know, to
   be able. See 1st Con, Can.]
   1. Knowing; skillful; dexterous. "A cunning workman." -- Ex.
      xxxviii. 23.
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            "Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white
            Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on. --Shak.
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            Esau was a cunning hunter.            --Gen xxv. 27.
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   2. Wrought with, or exhibiting, skill or ingenuity;
      ingenious; curious; as, cunning work.
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            Over them Arachne high did lift

            Her cunning web.                      --Spenser.
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   3. Crafty; sly; artful; designing; deceitful.
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            They are resolved to be cunning; let others run the
            hazard of being sincere.              --South.
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   4. Pretty or pleasing; as, a cunning little boy. [Colloq.
      U.S.] --Barlett.

   Syn: Cunning, Artful, Sly, Wily, Crafty.

   Usage: These epithets agree in expressing an aptitude for
          attaining some end by peculiar and secret means.
          Cunning is usually low; as, a cunning trick. Artful is
          more ingenious and inventive; as, an artful device.
          Sly implies a turn for what is double or concealed;
          as, sly humor; a sly evasion. Crafty denotes a talent
          for dexterously deceiving; as, a crafty manager. Wily
          describes a talent for the use of stratagems; as, a
          wily politician. A cunning man often shows his
          dexterity in simply concealing. An artful man goes
          further, and exerts his ingenuity in misleading. A
          crafty man mingles cunning with art, and so shapes his
          actions as to lull suspicions. The young may be
          cunning, but the experienced only can be crafty.
          Slyness is a vulgar kind of cunning; the sly man goes
          cautiously and silently to work. Wiliness is a species
          of cunning or craft applicable only to cases of attack
          and defense." --Crabb.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Cunning \Cun"ning\, n. [AS. cunnung trial, or Icel. kunnandi
   knowledge. See Cunning, a.]
   1. Knowledge; art; skill; dexterity. [Archaic]
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            Let my right hand forget her cunning. --Ps. cxxxvii.
                                                  5.
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            A carpenter's desert
            Stands more in cunning than in power. --Chapman.
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   2. The faculty or act of using stratagem to accomplish a
      purpose; fraudulent skill or dexterity; deceit; craft.
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            Discourage cunning in a child; cunning is the ape of
            wisdom.                               --Locke.
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            We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom.
                                                  --Bacon.
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