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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 has been an almost Orwellian artfulness in the way need-blind admissions policies are sold.
Did Needs-Blind Admission Create the College Debt Crisis? John McWhorter July 5, 2014

Historical Examples

I’m only full of artfulness, and anxious to put it all at your disposal.
The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rgen Elizabeth von Arnim

He has an astonishing amount of artfulness and unblushing impudence.
Tom, The Bootblack Horatio Alger

The double description is used as it is a calling full of artfulness and craft.
‘19,000’ Burford Delannoy

The wretched fellow had cursed a thousand times his own artfulness.
A Dog with a Bad Name Talbot Baines Reed

That may have been his artfulness, to keep us from searching.
Cutlass and Cudgel George Manville Fenn

With the artfulness that comes of years, ‘I’m glad you tell her everything.’
Echoes of the War J. M. Barrie

He proceeded about the business of fomenting dissatisfaction and strife with an artfulness surprising in one of his type.
West Wind Drift George Barr McCutcheon

He mistook her artfulness for innocence, and thought he had made a conquest.
For the Term of His Natural Life Marcus Clarke

Most Christians will be inclined to grant the artfulness of the race, traditionally.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 93, November 19, 1887 Various

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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