a. [AS. cunnan to know, to be able. See
1st Con, Can.] 1. Knowing;
skillful; dexterous. "A cunning workman." Ex.
"Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white
Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on.
Esau was a cunning hunter.
Gen xxv. 27.
2. Wrought with, or exhibiting, skill or
ingenuity; ingenious; curious; as, cunning work.
Over them Arachne high did lift
Her cunning web.
3. Crafty; sly; artful; designing;
They are resolved to be cunning; let others
run the hazard of being sincere.
4. Pretty or pleasing; as, a
cunning little boy. [Colloq. U.S.]
Syn. -- Cunning, Artful, Sly,
Wily, Crafty. -- 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. "Acunning 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."
Cun"ning, n. [AS. cunnung
trial, or Icel. kunnandi knowledge. See Cunning,
a.] 1. Knowledge; art;
skill; dexterity. [Archaic]
Let my right hand forget her cunning.
Ps. cxxxvii. 5.
A carpenter's desert
Stands more in cunning than in power.
2. The faculty or act of using stratagem
to accomplish a purpose; fraudulent skill or dexterity; deceit;
Discourage cunning in a child;
cunning is the ape of wisdom.
We take cunning for a sinister or crooked