Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Careful and shrewd, especially where one's own interests are concerned.
  • adj. Cautious in spending money; frugal.
  • adj. Scots Steady, restrained, and gentle.
  • adj. Scots Snug and quiet.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Careful, prudent, cautious.
  • adj. Knowing, shrewd, astute.
  • adj. Frugal, thrifty.
  • adj. Pleasant, fair.
  • adj. Very or much.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Artful; cunning; shrewd; wary.
  • adj. Skillful; knowing; capable.
  • adj. Cautious; prudent; safe..
  • adj. Having pleasing or useful qualities; gentle.
  • adj. Reputed to have magical powers.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A term of commendation of various application.
  • Knowing; cautious; prudent; wary; watchful; cunning; artful; crafty.
  • Skilled; handy; expert.
  • Moderate; reasonable. In expense: Frugal; not extravagant
  • In charges or exactions: Not extortionate.
  • In conduct: Not severe.
  • Quiet; easy; soft. Quiet in disposition; gentle; tractable.
  • Quiet in movement; still; slow.
  • Snug; comfortable; neat.
  • Safe; not dangerous; fortunate; lucky.
  • Good; worthy.
  • Possessed of supernatural power; skilled in magic.
  • In a canny manner; cannily; cautiously; gently; slowly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. showing self-interest and shrewdness in dealing with others

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

From can1.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Northern English dialect from can ("to know"), from Middle English can, first and third person singular of cunnen, connen ("to be able, know how to"), from Old English cunnan ("to know how to, be able to"). Compare Scots canny, Old English cann ("knowledge, assertion"). More at can, cunning.

Examples

  • As she told Glenn Campbell on Sunday, it takes a year to pass such a Bill - more than enough time, perhaps, for a certain canny First Minister to sell his idea of independence (see the quote at the top of the page) and cash in on people's lack of confidence in the Labour Party.

    Archive 2008-05-01

  • Yet "ca'canny" is a disastrous thing to the British laborer.

    The Scab

  • Known as a canny businesman with a Las Vegas address, Manny was listed as the founder and CEO of Wilkins LLC and also as the bottom-line owner of Singleatheart.com.

    Cruel Intent

  • She had stretched out a wilted hand, peering with an expression canny, severe, and resigned.

    Son of a Witch

  • Well, I do not believe there is much of a correlation, but if you really think about it, the fact that Wilson has been described as 'canny' reflects his vast magical knowledge.

    Georgia congressman: Wilson's outburst 'carefully calculated'

  • But I also do think that she's kind of canny, too, because I think she understands that her own celebrity right now is sort of bigger than politics.

    CNN Transcript Jul 11, 2009

  • I don't think they're being "canny", just complacent.

    Going to war

  • And courage is the only thing a "canny" Scot can bear to see expended without return.

    Tales from Many Sources Vol. V

  • Active, inquisitive, resolute, and possessing a fair share of the national _perfervidum ingenium_, not without some tincture of those elements of the Scottish character known as the "canny" and the "dour," our worker early developed that robust vigour of mind and body which has so long stood the wear and tear of severely trying work.

    God's Answers A Record of Miss Annie Macpherson's Work at the Home of Industry, Spitalfields, London, and in Canada

  • On the contrary he was usually what the Scotch call a "canny" player.

    The Golf Course Mystery

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