English edit

Etymology edit

From art (skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation) +‎ -ful (suffix forming adjectives from nouns, with the sense of being full of, tending to, or thoroughly possessing the quality expressed by the noun).[1]

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

artful (comparative more artful, superlative most artful)

  1. Characterized by, or performed with, cleverness or contrivance; clever, ingenious.
    • 1613 (indicated as 1612), George Wither, “Epithalamion”, in Epithalamia: or, Nuptiall Poems upon the Most Blessed and Happie Mariage betweene the High and Mightie Prince Frederick the Fifth, Count Palatine of the Rhein, Duke of Bauier, &c., And the Most Vertuous, Gracious and Thrice Excellent Princesse, Elizabeth, Sole Daughter to Our Dread Soueraigne, Iames by the Grace of God King of Great Britaine, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c.; Celebrated at White-Hall the Fourteenth of Februarie, 1613, London: [] [F. Kingston] for Edward Marchant, [], →OCLC:
      The nights ſtrange proſpects, made to feede the eyes; / With Artfull fyres, mounted in the skies: / Graced with horred claps of ſulphury thunders; / May make your mind, Iehouahs greater wonders.
      A description of fireworks.
    • 1843, John Stuart Mill, “The Same Subject Continued [Of Demonstration, and Necessary Truths]”, in A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive, being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence, and the Methods of Scientific Investigation. [], volume I, London: John W[illiam] Parker, [], →OCLC, § 2, page 331:
      The doctrine that we can discover facts, detect the hidden processes of nature, by an artful manipulation of language, is so contrary to common sense, that a person must have made some advances in philosophy to believe it; []
  2. Not naturally produced; artificial; imitative.
    • 1609, Tho[mas] Heywood, “Canto. 8.”, in Troia Britanica: Or, Great Britaines Troy. [], London: [] W[illiam] Iaggard, →OCLC, stanza 16, page 173:
      Some of this Artfull coulour now I want, / VVhich from the Muſes I deſire to borrow, / In Melancholly Priam to diſpaint / The perfect Image and true face of Sorrow, []
    • 1707, [Joseph Addison], Rosamond. An Opera. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, Act II, scene i, page 15:
      But oh! vvith Noon-day Heats oppreſs'd, / My aking Temples call for Reſt! / In yon cool Grotto's artful Night / Refreſhing Slumbers I'll invite, []
    • 1847, R[alph] W[aldo] Emerson, “Merlin. I.”, in Poems, Boston, Mass.: James Munroe and Company, →OCLC, pages 180–181:
      The kingly bard / Must smite the chords rudely and hard, / As with hammer or with mace; / That they may render back / Artful thunder, which conveys / Secrets of the solar track, / Sparks of the supersolar blaze.
  3. Exhibiting or using much art or skill; dexterous; skilful.
    Synonym: adroit
    • 1605 (first performance), Beniamin Ionson [i.e., Ben Jonson], “Volpone, or The Foxe. A Comœdie. []”, in The Workes of Beniamin Ionson (First Folio), London: [] Will[iam] Stansby, published 1616, →OCLC, Act III, scene vii, page 490:
      [W]e, in changed ſhapes, act Ovid's tales, / [] / Then vvill I haue thee in more moderne formes, / Attired like ſome ſprightly dame of France, / Braue Tuſcan lady, or proud Spaniſh beauty; / Sometimes, vnto the Perſian Sophies vvife; / Or the grand-Signiors miſtreſſe; and, for change, / To one of our moſt art-full courtizans, []
    • 1608, [Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas], “[Du Bartas His First VVeek, or Birth of the VVorld: [].] The Sixt Daie of the First VVeek.”, in Josuah Sylvester, transl., Du Bartas His Deuine Weekes and Workes [], 3rd edition, London: [] Humfrey Lownes [and are to be sold by Arthur Iohnson []], published 1611, →OCLC, page 149:
      VVhat ſtrength of arm, or Art-full ſtratagem, / From Nile’s fell Rover could deliver them, / VVho runs, and rovves, vvarring by Land and VVater / 'Gainſt Men and Fiſhes, ſubiect to his ſlaughter?
      A reference to the crocodile.
    • 1634 October 9 (first performance), [John Milton], edited by H[enry] Lawes, A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634: [], London: [] [Augustine Matthews] for Hvmphrey Robinson, [], published 1637, →OCLC; reprinted as Comus: [] (Dodd, Mead & Company’s Facsimile Reprints of Rare Books; Literature Series; no. I), New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903, →OCLC, page 17:
      Spir[it]. VVhat voice is that, my yong Lord? ſpeak agen. [] Eld[er] bro[ther]. Thyrſis? vvhoſe artfull ſtrains have oft delayed / The huddling brook to heare his madrigale, / And ſvveeten'd every muskroſe of the dale, []
    • 1718, Homer, [Alexander] Pope, transl., “Book XIV”, in The Iliad of Homer, volume IV, London: [] W[illiam] Bowyer, for Bernard Lintott [], →OCLC, page 102, lines 204–206:
      Her artful Hands the radiant Treſſes ty'd; / Part on her Head in ſhining Ringlets roll'd, / Part o'er her Shoulders vvav'd like melted Gold.
    • 1841 February–November, Charles Dickens, “Barnaby Rudge”, in Master Humphrey’s Clock, volume III, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, chapter 74, page 371:
      His warming on this topic, which to one unacquainted with his pursuits and tastes appeared like courage; together with his artful suppression of his own secret hopes, and mention of himself as being in the same condition with Hugh; did more to soothe that ruffian than the most elaborate arguments could have done, or the most abject submission.
    • 1906 April, O. Henry [pseudonym; William Sydney Porter], “After Twenty Years”, in The Four Million, New York, N.Y.: McClure, Phillips & Co, →OCLC, page 214:
      The policeman on the beat moved up the avenue impressively. [] Trying doors as he went, twirling his club with many intricate and artful movements, turning now and then to cast his watchful eye adown the pacific thoroughfare, the officer, with his stalwart form and slight swagger, made a fine picture of a guardian of the peace.
  4. (especially) Skilful at using dishonest or unfair means to achieve a purpose; crafty, cunning.
    Synonyms: deceitful, underhand; see also Thesaurus:wily
  5. (obsolete) Knowledgeable about the liberal arts; learned, wise.

Alternative forms edit

Derived terms edit

Translations edit

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

References edit

  1. ^ artful, adj. (and n.)”, in OED Online  , Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2021; artful, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

Anagrams edit