Definition for CUN'NING

CUN'NING, a. [Sax. cunnan, connan; Goth. kunnan, to know: Sw. kunna, to be able, to know; kunnig, known; also, knowing, skillful, cunning; D. kunnen, can, to be able, to hold, contain, understand, or know; G. können. See Can.]

  1. Knowing; skillful; experienced; well-instructed. It is applied to all kinds of knowledge, but generally and appropriately, to the skill and dexterity of artificers, or the knowledge acquired by experience. Esau was a cunning hunter. – Gen. xxiii. I will take away the cunning artificer. – Is. iii. A cunning workman. – Ex. xxxviii.
  2. Wrought with skill; curious; ingenious. With cherubs of cunning work shalt thou make them. – Ex. xxvi. [The foregoing senses occur frequently in our version of the Scriptures, but are nearly or quite obsolete.]
  3. Artful; shrewd; sly; crafty; astute; designing; as, a cunning fellow. They are resolved to be cunning; let others run the hazard of being sincere. – South. In this sense, the purpose or final end of the person may not be illaudable; but cunning implies the use of artifice to accomplish the purpose, rather than open, candid, or direct means. Hence,
  4. Deceitful; trickish; employing stratagems for a bad purpose.
  5. Assumed with subtilty; artful. Accounting his integrity to be but a cunning face of falsehood. – Sidney.

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