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Clever vs. Cunning: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 29, 2023
"Clever" implies resourcefulness and quick-thinking, often positively; "Cunning" suggests shrewdness with a deceitful or manipulative connotation.

Key Differences

Cleverness is associated with intelligence and the ability to solve problems quickly and creatively. Cunning, on the other hand, often implies a similar level of intelligence but used for deceitful or manipulative purposes.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023
In literature, a clever character is admired for their resourcefulness and wit. Conversely, a cunning character may be viewed suspiciously, as their intelligence is used for self-serving or dubious ends.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023
In everyday language, calling someone clever usually denotes respect for their mental agility. Calling someone cunning, however, often carries an undertone of mistrust, highlighting their capability for deception.
Huma Saeed
Dec 29, 2023
Educational contexts tend to foster and praise cleverness for its role in learning and innovation. Cunning, conversely, is typically discouraged due to its association with cheating or unethical behavior.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023
In problem-solving, being clever is about finding innovative solutions. Being cunning, in contrast, might involve bending rules or manipulating situations to one's advantage.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Connotation

Positive; admired intelligence
Negative; deceitful intelligence
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Usage in Literature

Heroic, resourceful characters
Sly, manipulative characters
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Context in Conversation

Complimenting intelligence
Implying deceit or manipulation
Huma Saeed
Dec 29, 2023

In Problem Solving

Innovative solutions
Manipulative strategies
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Educational Viewpoint

Encouraged for learning
Discouraged due to ethics
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023
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Clever and Cunning Definitions

Clever

Characterized by wit and ingenuity.
She made a clever remark that amused everyone.
Harlon Moss
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Skillful in deception or trickery.
The cunning fox outwitted the hunter.
Huma Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

Clever

Intellectually quick and resourceful.
She was clever enough to solve the puzzle in seconds.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Cleverly achieving one's aims by indirect or deceitful methods.
He used a cunning strategy to win the game.
Harlon Moss
Dec 06, 2023

Clever

Showing inventiveness or originality.
Her clever invention won the science fair.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Showing sly intelligence, especially in deceit.
Her cunning plan secured her the deal.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Clever

Apt at learning or understanding things.
He's clever with languages and speaks three fluently.
Harlon Moss
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Artfully subtle or shrewd.
His cunning eyes missed nothing.
Harlon Moss
Dec 06, 2023

Clever

Skilled at doing or achieving something; talented.
He's clever at mathematics.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Ingeniously deceitful.
The spy used his cunning nature to gather information.
Harlon Moss
Dec 06, 2023

Clever

Mentally quick and original; bright
A clever student.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Marked by or given to artful subtlety and deceptiveness.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

Cunning

Executed with or exhibiting ingenuity.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 06, 2023

FAQs

Can "cunning" have a positive connotation?

Rarely; it's usually associated with deceit.
Huma Saeed
Dec 29, 2023

Can a solution be both clever and cunning?

Yes, if it's ingenious and manipulative.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 29, 2023

Is "clever" always a compliment?

Yes, it typically praises someone's intelligence or skill.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Do children's stories often feature cunning characters?

Yes, often as antagonists or tricky figures.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Are animals described as cunning?

Yes, especially when they're seen as sly or deceptive.
Janet White
Dec 29, 2023

Are clever people always cunning?

No, cleverness doesn't imply deceit.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Is cunning a form of intelligence?

Yes, but it's often intelligence used unethically.
Janet White
Dec 29, 2023

Is being clever valued in education?

Absolutely, as it relates to learning and problem-solving.
Harlon Moss
Dec 29, 2023

Can "cunning" be a trait of a hero?

Rarely; it's more common in villains.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Is being cunning illegal?

Not necessarily, but it can involve unethical behavior.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Can machines or technology be clever?

Yes, in the sense of being well-designed or efficient.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 29, 2023

Do synonyms for "clever" carry the same positivity?

Generally, yes, like "smart" or "intelligent".
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Can businesses operate cunningly?

Yes, but this can lead to ethical dilemmas.
Harlon Moss
Dec 29, 2023

Is cunning a survival skill?

In some contexts, it can be seen as such.
Harlon Moss
Dec 29, 2023

Is it better to be clever or cunning?

Generally, being clever is more positively regarded.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 29, 2023

Can one become more clever?

Yes, through learning and experience.
Harlon Moss
Dec 29, 2023

Does "clever" imply creativity?

Often, as it involves thinking in new ways.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 29, 2023

Are all cunning acts unethical?

Not all, but many involve questionable ethics.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 29, 2023

Can "cunning" be used in a playful sense?

Sometimes, in a light-hearted or teasing context.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 29, 2023

Are "cunning" people trustworthy?

Often not, due to the association with deceit.
Harlon Moss
Dec 29, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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