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Definition being good at achieving goals through cleverness and trickery

Much more rarely (and especially rare today), cunning can reference cleverness or skill without implying deceit.  Also, at one time, cunning was also used as a synonym for cute.
  • She came up with a cunning scheme to cheat him.
cunning = cleverly tricky
  • The worst mix — greedy, cunning, and without morals.
  • cunning = cleverly tricky
  • She is inexperienced and he is cunning.
  • But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
    2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV)
  • Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
    Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)
  • He became cunning; he had idle time in which to devote himself to thoughts of trickery.
    Jack London  --  White Fang
  • cunning = cleverly tricky
  •   Or perhaps in Slytherin
      You'll make your real friends,
      Those cunning folk use any means
      To achieve their ends.
    J.K. Rowling  --  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
  • cunning = being good at achieving goals through cleverness and trickery
  • He gave thanks to the gods for the cunning and strength that had caused him to defeat such an adversary.
    David Almond  --  Kit's Wilderness
  • cunning = skill in achieving goals through cleverness and deception
  • He got a cunning look, as if getting ready to offer a deal—the look men have when they fight with men instead of poor stupid animals.
    John Gardner  --  Grendel
  • cunning = cleverly tricky
  • In the silence they feared some cunning devilry of his, but they could not sit there for ever.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Hobbit
  • cunning = cleverness and deception
  • And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan.
    C.S. Lewis  --  The Last Battle
  • cunning = cleverly deceitful
  • I started for the Amazon to hunt jaguars, for I had heard they were unusually cunning.
    Richard Connell  --  The Most Dangerous Game
  • cunning = skill in achieving goals through cleverness and deception
  • I have some sport in hand wherein your cunning can assist me much.
    William Shakespeare  --  The Taming of the Shrew
  • cunning = cleverness
  • All the Jungle-People admire us for our skill and our cunning.
    Rudyard Kipling  --  The Jungle Book
  • cunning = skill in achieving goals through cleverness
  • The tunnel was an example of his skill and cunning.
    E. B. White  --  Charlotte's Web
  • cunning = cleverness
  • "It ain't fair that we have all the rough breaks!" I didn't know exactly what I meant, but I was thinking about Johnny's father being a drunk and ... and Dally—wild, cunning Dally—turning into a hoodlum because he'd die if he didn't, and...
    S.E. Hinton  --  The Outsiders
  • cunning = clever and deceptive
  • You perceive the devilish cunning of it, for really it would be almost impossible to make a case against the real murderer.
    Arthur Conan Doyle  --  The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • cunning = cleverness and deception
  • If he was still following, he was very wary and cunning.
    J.R.R. Tolkien  --  The Fellowship of the Ring
  • cunning = cleverly tricky
  • All the sharpness and cunning and quarrelsomeness ... seemed to have been washed away,
    C.S. Lewis  --  The Magician's Nephew
  • cunning = deceitful cleverness
  • Stupid and cunning, ruthless and magnanimous-and that there must be some dominating factor that reconciles his two natures.
    Agatha Christie  --  The ABC Murders
cunning = cleverly tricky

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