adj. shrewd·er, shrewd·est
1. Having or showing a clever awareness or resourcefulness, especially in practical matters.
2. Disposed to or marked by artful and cunning practices; tricky.
3. Archaic Sharp; penetrating: a shrewd wind.
[Middle English shrewed, wicked, from shrew, rascal; see SHREW.]
Synonyms: shrewd, sagacious, astute, perspicacious
These adjectives mean having or showing keen awareness, sound judgment, and often resourcefulness, especially in practical matters. Shrewd suggests a sharp intelligence, hardheadedness, and often an intuitive grasp of practical considerations: "He was too shrewd to go along with them upon a road which could lead only to their overthrow" (J.A. Froude).
Sagacious connotes prudence, discernment, and farsightedness: "He was observant and thoughtful, and given to asking sagacious questions" (John Galt).
Astute suggests shrewdness, especially with regard to one's own interests: An astute tenant always reads the small print in a lease.
Perspicacious implies penetration and clear-sightedness: She is much too perspicacious to be taken in by such a spurious argument.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.