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slyly crafty or cunning; deceitful; tricky:
artful schemes.
skillful or clever in adapting means to ends; ingenious:
an artful choice of metaphors and similes.
done with or characterized by or skill:
artful acting; artful repairs.
Archaic. .
Contemporary Examples

There are artful and probing passages about the process of writing that could be used verbatim in M.F.A. classes.
The Chain Smoker in the Closet Jane Ciabattari November 6, 2011

Just an artful couple of sentences about how if nothing else, this kind of thing hurts recruiting.
West Virginia. Sigh. Michael Tomasky June 18, 2012

The Glazers—like all the worst LBO characters—have been artful about taking money out of the business.
Manchester United: The Glazer Family’s Bad Play Michael Moritz August 5, 2012

Take this opportunity to word business plans and artful missions.
The Stars Predict Your Week Starsky + Cox September 17, 2011

If adapted for the stage, this novel would make an artful, off-Broadway monologue.
This Week’s Hot Reads: Sept. 2, 2013 Damaris Colhoun September 1, 2013

Historical Examples

The widow Francis (she was but Mrs. Francis Esmond) was a scheming, artful, heartless hussy.
The History of Henry Esmond, Esq. W. M. Thackeray

If she fell, should he not save his friend from being the dupe of an artful intriguante?
Calderon The Courtier Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There is also an unguarded openness about them, that makes them the ready prey of the artful and designing.
The Young Gentleman and Lady’s Monitor, and English Teacher’s Assistant John Hamilton Moore

A preconcerted, forward, and artful flight, it must undoubtedly appear to them.
Clarissa, Volume 3 (of 9) Samuel Richardson

“I will not delay you longer this morning,” he said at last, with an artful mock confidence.
A Fascinating Traitor Richard Henry Savage

cunning or tricky
skilful in achieving a desired end
(archaic) characterized by skill or art
(archaic) artificial

1610s, “learned, well-versed in the (liberal) arts,” also “characterized by technical skill,” from art (n.) + -ful. Meaning “skilled in adapting means to ends” is from 1739. Related: Artfully; artfulness.


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