Top 45 Slang For Cunning – Meaning & Usage

Cunning individuals always seem to find a way to outsmart the rest, using their wit and cleverness to navigate any situation. But what are the words and phrases that best capture this crafty behavior? Join us as we unveil a curated list of the top slang for cunning that will have you feeling like a master manipulator in no time. Get ready to up your cunning game and stay ahead of the curve with these sneaky expressions!

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1. Sly as a fox

This phrase describes someone who is extremely cunning and clever, often with a mischievous or deceitful nature.

  • For example, “He managed to outsmart his opponents with his sly as a fox tactics.”
  • In a discussion about clever strategies, someone might say, “You have to be sly as a fox to succeed in this game.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s cunning by saying, “You always find a way to get what you want. You’re as sly as a fox!”

2. Crafty

This term describes someone who is skilled in deception or manipulation, often using their intelligence and cunning to achieve their goals.

  • For instance, “He used his crafty tactics to win the game.”
  • In a discussion about con artists, someone might say, “A crafty individual can easily manipulate others for personal gain.”
  • A person might warn others by saying, “Be careful around him, he’s known for his crafty ways.”

3. Sharp as a tack

This phrase refers to someone who is quick-witted and intelligent, often able to think and respond quickly in any situation.

  • For example, “She’s sharp as a tack and always has a clever response.”
  • In a discussion about problem-solving skills, someone might say, “You need to be sharp as a tack to come up with a solution.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s intelligence by saying, “You’re always one step ahead. You’re as sharp as a tack!”

4. Street-smart

This term describes someone who has practical and cunning intelligence, often gained through life experiences and an understanding of how to navigate difficult situations.

  • For instance, “Growing up in the city, she became street-smart and learned to trust her instincts.”
  • In a discussion about survival skills, someone might say, “Being street-smart can be just as important as book smarts.”
  • A person might admire someone’s ability to handle tough situations by saying, “He’s street-smart and knows how to handle himself in any situation.”

5. Shrewd

This word describes someone who is astute and sharp-minded, often able to make smart and cunning decisions.

  • For example, “He’s a shrewd businessman who always knows how to make a profit.”
  • In a discussion about negotiation skills, someone might say, “You have to be shrewd to get the best deal.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s cleverness by saying, “You’re shrewd and always find a way to come out on top.”

6. Devious

This word describes someone who is crafty, sneaky, and often uses underhanded methods to achieve their goals. It implies a sense of dishonesty or trickery.

  • For example, “He came up with a devious plan to steal the diamond.”
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might say, “Politicians are known for their devious tactics.”
  • A character in a mystery novel might be described as “devious and manipulative.”

7. Machiavellian

This term refers to someone who is cunning and manipulative in their actions, often without regard for moral principles. It is derived from the name of the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, known for his book “The Prince.”

  • For instance, “He used Machiavellian tactics to gain power and control.”
  • In a discussion about leadership, someone might say, “A Machiavellian leader is willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power.”
  • A character in a TV show might be described as “Machiavellian,“Machiavellian, always scheming and plotting.”

8. Guileful

This word describes someone who is clever, sly, and skilled at deceiving others. It implies a sense of strategic thinking and the ability to outsmart others.

  • For example, “She came up with a guileful plan to outwit her opponents.”
  • In a discussion about strategy, someone might say, “A guileful approach can often lead to victory.”
  • A character in a movie might be described as “guileful,“guileful, always one step ahead of everyone else.”

9. Wily

This term describes someone who is skilled at deception and manipulation. It implies a sense of cleverness and resourcefulness in achieving one’s goals.

  • For instance, “He is a wily negotiator, always finding a way to get what he wants.”
  • In a discussion about survival skills, someone might say, “Being wily can help you outsmart dangerous situations.”
  • A character in a book might be described as “wily and quick-witted.”

10. Foxy

This word describes someone who is clever, crafty, and skilled at manipulating others. It often implies a sense of attractiveness and charm.

  • For example, “She used her foxy charm to get what she wanted.”
  • In a discussion about seduction, someone might say, “A foxy person knows how to play the game.”
  • A character in a TV show might be described as “foxy,“foxy, always one step ahead of everyone else.”

11. Canny

This term refers to someone who is clever, shrewd, or crafty in their actions or behavior.

  • For example, “He’s a canny businessman who always knows how to make a profit.”
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might say, “Politicians often use canny tactics to gain public support.”
  • A person might describe a friend as, “She’s canny when it comes to finding the best deals.”

12. Sly

This word describes someone who is crafty, deceitful, or cunning in a secretive or sneaky way.

  • For instance, “He had a sly smile on his face, indicating he was up to something.”
  • In a conversation about pranks, someone might say, “She pulled off a sly trick on April Fool’s Day.”
  • A person might describe a con artist as, “He’s a sly manipulator who knows how to deceive people.”

13. Artful

This term refers to someone who is cunning, skillful, or clever in their actions or behavior.

  • For example, “She’s an artful negotiator who always manages to get what she wants.”
  • In a discussion about strategy, someone might say, “An artful approach can often lead to success in complex situations.”
  • A person might describe a chef as, “He’s an artful creator who turns simple ingredients into culinary masterpieces.”

14. Dodgy

This word describes something or someone that is suspicious, unreliable, or potentially deceitful.

  • For instance, “I wouldn’t trust that dodgy website with my personal information.”
  • In a conversation about buying used cars, someone might say, “Be careful of dodgy sellers who try to hide the vehicle’s true condition.”
  • A person might describe a business deal as, “It seemed dodgy from the start, and I decided not to proceed.”

15. Sly boots

This term refers to a person who is cunning, devious, or sly in their actions or behavior.

  • For example, “Watch out for that sly boots, he’s always trying to pull a fast one.”
  • In a discussion about tricksters, someone might say, “She’s a real sly boots when it comes to playing practical jokes.”
  • A person might describe a con artist as, “He’s a sly boots who knows how to manipulate people for his own gain.”

16. Astute

This term refers to someone who is clever, perceptive, and able to quickly understand and analyze situations. It is often used to describe someone who is shrewd or intelligent in their observations and decisions.

  • For example, a person might say, “He’s an astute businessman who always knows how to make the right deals.”
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might comment, “The astute politician can anticipate the needs and concerns of the voters.”
  • A teacher might praise a student by saying, “You have an astute understanding of complex concepts.”

17. Sharp-witted

This term describes someone who is mentally agile and able to think and respond quickly. It often implies intelligence, cleverness, and a knack for making witty remarks or comebacks.

  • For instance, in a comedy show, a comedian might be praised as “sharp-witted” for their ability to deliver clever jokes on the spot.
  • In a debate, someone might say, “He’s a sharp-witted debater who always has a clever response.”
  • A friend might compliment another by saying, “You’re so sharp-witted, you always have a clever remark for every situation.”

18. Scheming

This term refers to someone who is crafty, cunning, and often involved in secret or dishonest plans or schemes. It implies a level of deceit or trickery in someone’s actions or intentions.

  • For example, a character in a movie might be described as “scheming” if they are constantly plotting and manipulating others for their own gain.
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might say, “Beware of the scheming politicians who are only looking out for their own interests.”
  • A person might use the term to describe a coworker who is always trying to undermine others in order to get ahead, saying, “She’s a scheming opportunist who will do anything to climb the corporate ladder.”

19. Sly dog

This term is often used to describe someone who is clever, cunning, and skilled at deceiving or outsmarting others. It implies a level of mischievousness and an ability to navigate tricky situations with ease.

  • For instance, a person might say, “He’s a sly dog when it comes to negotiating deals.”
  • In a discussion about pranks, someone might comment, “That sly dog always manages to pull off the best practical jokes.”
  • A friend might jokingly say to another, “You sly dog, you always know how to charm your way out of trouble.”

20. Double-dealing

This term refers to someone who is deceitful, dishonest, and prone to engaging in duplicitous or underhanded behavior. It implies a level of betrayal or treachery in someone’s actions or intentions.

  • For example, a person might be described as “double-dealing” if they pretend to be someone’s friend while secretly working against them.
  • In a discussion about business, someone might caution, “Watch out for double-dealing competitors who might try to steal your ideas.”
  • A person might use the term to describe a coworker who is always playing both sides to their advantage, saying, “He’s a double-dealing opportunist who can’t be trusted.”

21. Sneaky

This term is used to describe someone who is clever at avoiding detection or who acts in a secretive or underhanded manner.

  • For example, “He’s always sneaky, you never know what he’s up to.”
  • In a game of hide-and-seek, a player might say, “I’m going to find a sneaky hiding spot.”
  • A person discussing a deceptive tactic might say, “That was a sneaky move, you caught them off guard.”

22. Clever as a fox

This phrase compares someone’s intelligence or cunningness to that of a fox, which is known for its cleverness and craftiness.

  • For instance, “He’s as clever as a fox, he always finds a way out of trouble.”
  • In a discussion about problem-solving, one might say, “You need to be as clever as a fox to solve this puzzle.”
  • A person complimenting someone’s quick thinking might say, “Wow, you’re as clever as a fox!”

23. Shifty

This term is used to describe someone who is suspicious or untrustworthy, often due to their evasive or deceptive behavior.

  • For example, “I don’t trust him, he’s always shifty.”
  • In a conversation about a dishonest person, one might say, “Watch out for that shifty character.”
  • A person describing someone who avoids answering direct questions might say, “He’s really shifty, he never gives a straight answer.”

24. Cunning as a weasel

This phrase compares someone’s cunningness to that of a weasel, which is known for its ability to outsmart and deceive others.

  • For instance, “She’s as cunning as a weasel, you can never predict her next move.”
  • In a discussion about a clever plan, one might say, “That’s as cunning as a weasel.”
  • A person describing someone who always finds a way to achieve their goals might say, “He’s cunning as a weasel, nothing can stop him.”

25. Artful dodger

This term refers to someone who is adept at evading difficult or dangerous situations, often through their quick thinking or clever tactics.

  • For example, “He’s the artful dodger, he always manages to escape trouble.”
  • In a discussion about a person who avoids confrontations, one might say, “She’s like the artful dodger, she never gets into arguments.”
  • A person admiring someone’s ability to avoid trouble might say, “You’re the artful dodger, you always know how to stay out of trouble.”

26. Trickster

A trickster is someone who is skilled at deceiving or manipulating others for their own advantage. They are often cunning and sly in their actions.

  • For example, “He’s such a trickster, always coming up with clever schemes to get what he wants.”
  • In a discussion about folklore, someone might mention, “The trickster archetype appears in many mythologies, often as a mischievous and cunning character.”
  • A person might describe a con artist as, “A master trickster who knows how to manipulate people’s trust.”

27. Caggy

Caggy is a slang term used to describe someone who is cunning or crafty in their actions. It implies a level of slyness and cleverness.

  • For instance, “She’s a caggy one, always finding a way to outsmart others.”
  • In a conversation about strategy, someone might say, “Being caggy can give you an advantage in competitive situations.”
  • A person might describe a clever escape plan as, “A caggy move that caught everyone off guard.”

28. Sly old dog

A sly old dog refers to someone who is both cunning and experienced. It implies that the person has a history of being clever and knows how to navigate tricky situations.

  • For example, “He’s a sly old dog, always finding a way to get what he wants.”
  • In a discussion about veteran negotiators, someone might say, “They’re sly old dogs who can outwit anyone.”
  • A person might describe a seasoned con artist as, “A sly old dog who has seen it all and knows all the tricks.”

29. Fly

Fly is a slang term used to describe someone who is sharp or clever. It implies that the person is quick-witted and able to think on their feet.

  • For instance, “He’s a fly guy, always coming up with clever comebacks.”
  • In a conversation about problem-solving, someone might say, “Being fly can help you find creative solutions.”
  • A person might describe a quick thinker as, “A fly individual who never misses an opportunity.”

30. Foxy lady

Foxy lady is a slang term used to describe an attractive and cunning woman. It combines the idea of physical attractiveness with a clever and sly demeanor.

  • For example, “She’s a foxy lady, always charming her way out of difficult situations.”
  • In a discussion about seduction, someone might say, “A foxy lady knows how to use her charm to get what she wants.”
  • A person might describe a femme fatale as, “A foxy lady who can wrap any man around her finger.”

31. Canny Scot

This term refers to a clever or shrewd person from Scotland. It is often used to describe someone who is resourceful and cunning in their actions.

  • For example, “That Canny Scot managed to negotiate a great deal.”
  • In a discussion about clever tactics, someone might say, “You need to be a Canny Scot to outsmart your opponents.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s clever solution by saying, “You’re a real Canny Scot, coming up with that idea!”

32. Sly devil

This term is used to describe a person who is sly and cunning in their actions. It implies that the person is deceitful or crafty in their approach.

  • For instance, “Watch out for that Sly Devil, he always has a trick up his sleeve.”
  • In a conversation about manipulative behavior, someone might say, “She’s a Sly Devil, always finding a way to get what she wants.”
  • A person might warn others by saying, “Don’t trust him, he’s a Sly Devil who will take advantage of you.”

33. Sharp cookie

This term refers to a person who is not only intelligent but also cunning and astute in their actions. It implies that the person is sharp-witted and able to think quickly.

  • For example, “She’s a Sharp Cookie, always coming up with clever solutions.”
  • In a discussion about problem-solving skills, someone might say, “You need to be a Sharp Cookie to figure that out.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s quick thinking by saying, “You’re one Sharp Cookie, I wouldn’t have thought of that!”

34. Sly one

This term is used to describe a person who is sly and cunning in their actions. It implies that the person is deceptive or crafty in their behavior.

  • For instance, “Don’t underestimate that Sly One, he knows how to get what he wants.”
  • In a conversation about manipulative tactics, someone might say, “She’s a Sly One, always finding a way to twist the situation in her favor.”
  • A person might warn others by saying, “Be careful around him, he’s a Sly One who can’t be trusted.”

35. Crafty as a weasel

This term describes someone who is not only cunning but also resourceful and clever in their actions. It implies that the person is able to find creative solutions to problems.

  • For example, “He’s as Crafty as a Weasel, always finding a way to get what he wants.”
  • In a discussion about clever strategies, someone might say, “You need to be as Crafty as a Weasel to outsmart your opponents.”
  • A person might compliment someone’s ingenuity by saying, “You’re as Crafty as a Weasel, coming up with that plan!”

36. Shifty character

This term refers to someone who is untrustworthy or dishonest. A shifty character is often seen as someone who is constantly scheming or up to no good.

  • For example, “Be careful around him, he’s a shifty character.”
  • In a crime novel, a detective might describe a suspect as a “shifty character.”
  • A person might warn their friend, “Don’t get involved with that shifty character, he’ll only cause trouble.”

37. Sly trickster

A sly trickster is someone who enjoys playing tricks or pranks on others, often in a clever or sneaky way. They are skilled at deceiving others and are known for their cunning nature.

  • For instance, “Watch out for that sly trickster, he’s always pulling pranks.”
  • In a comedy show, a character might be portrayed as a “sly trickster” who constantly plays tricks on their friends.
  • A person might say, “I love watching videos of sly tricksters pulling off elaborate pranks.”

38. Cunning linguist

A cunning linguist is someone who is skilled in language and communication. They have a clever way with words and are often able to manipulate language to their advantage.

  • For example, “She’s a cunning linguist, able to convince anyone with her words.”
  • In a debate, a person might be described as a “cunning linguist” for their ability to sway the audience with their persuasive language.
  • A writer might say, “To be a good writer, you need to be a cunning linguist, able to craft compelling stories with your words.”

39. Sly operator

A sly operator is someone who is skilled at manipulating others for their own gain. They are cunning and often use trickery or deceit to achieve their goals.

  • For instance, “Be careful around him, he’s a sly operator who will use you for his own benefit.”
  • In a business setting, a person might be described as a “sly operator” for their ability to manipulate others to get what they want.
  • A person might say, “I’ve dealt with many sly operators in my career, and it’s important to always stay one step ahead of them.”

40. Foxy grandpa

A foxy grandpa is an older man who is still sharp and cunning. They have a clever and sly demeanor, often using their experience and wisdom to their advantage.

  • For example, “Don’t underestimate him, he may be old but he’s still a foxy grandpa.”
  • In a movie, a character might be portrayed as a “foxy grandpa” who outsmarts the younger generation with his cunning.
  • A person might say, “My grandfather is a foxy grandpa, always coming up with clever solutions to problems.”

41. Sharp operator

A “sharp operator” refers to someone who is clever, shrewd, and quick-witted. It describes a person who is skilled at navigating tricky situations and achieving their goals through cunning tactics.

  • For example, in a business context, you might say, “He’s a sharp operator who always knows how to make a deal.”
  • In a political discussion, someone might comment, “That politician is a sharp operator who knows how to manipulate public opinion.”
  • A friend might describe someone as a “sharp operator” by saying,“sharp operator” by saying, “She always knows how to get what she wants.”

42. Sly fox

A “sly fox” is a person who is clever, cunning, and skilled at deceiving others. This term is often used to describe someone who is able to outsmart others and achieve their goals through cunning and manipulation.

  • For instance, you might say, “He’s a sly fox who always manages to come out on top.”
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might comment, “That politician is a sly fox who knows how to manipulate the system.”
  • A friend might describe someone as a “sly fox” by saying,“sly fox” by saying, “She’s always one step ahead of everyone else.”

43. Sly old fox

A “sly old fox” refers to a person who is not only cunning and crafty but also experienced and wise. This term is often used to describe someone who has been successful in their cunning tactics over a long period of time.

  • For example, you might say, “He’s a sly old fox who has been in the game for years.”
  • In a discussion about business, someone might comment, “That entrepreneur is a sly old fox who knows all the tricks of the trade.”
  • A friend might describe someone as a “sly old fox” by saying,“sly old fox” by saying, “He’s been around the block and knows how to get what he wants.”

44. Cagy

A “cagy” person is someone who is not only cunning and clever but also cautious and guarded. This term is often used to describe someone who is able to anticipate and avoid potential pitfalls and dangers through their cunning nature.

  • For instance, you might say, “He’s a cagy individual who always thinks several steps ahead.”
  • In a discussion about strategy, someone might comment, “That chess player is incredibly cagy and always manages to outwit their opponent.”
  • A friend might describe someone as “cagy” by saying,“cagy” by saying, “She’s always careful and never reveals her true intentions.”

45. Slyboots

A “slyboots” is a person who is not only sly and cunning but also mischievous and playful in their actions. This term is often used to describe someone who enjoys using their cunning nature to play tricks and deceive others.

  • For example, you might say, “He’s a slyboots who loves pulling pranks on his friends.”
  • In a discussion about practical jokes, someone might comment, “That person is a real slyboots who always comes up with clever ways to trick people.”
  • A friend might describe someone as a “slyboots” by saying,“slyboots” by saying, “She’s always full of surprises and loves to play tricks on others.”
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