CLEVER , anadjective implying dexterous activity of mind or
See also:body, and ability to meet emergencies with readiness and adroitness . The etymology and the early
See also:history of the word are obscure . The earliest instance quoted by the New
See also:Dictionary is in the Bestiary of c . 1200 (An Old English
See also:Miscellany, ed . R .
See also:Morris, 1872, E.E.T.S . 49)—" On the clothed the neddre (
See also:adder) is cof (
See also:quick) and the devel cliver on sinnes," i.e. quick to seize hold of; this would connect the word with a M . Eng . " cliver " or " clivre," a talon or claw (so H .
See also:Diet. of Eng . Etym.) . The ultimate
See also:original would be the
See also:root appearing in " claw," " cleave," " cling, " " clip," &c., meaning to " stick to." This original sense probably survives in the frequent use of the word for nimble, dexterous, quick and skilful in the use of the hands, and so it is often applied to a
See also:horse, " clever at his fences." The word has also been connected with O .
Eng. gleaw,wise, which became in M . Eng. gleu, and is cognate with Scottish gleg, quick of
See also:eye . As to the use of the word,
See also:Browne mentions it among " words of no general reception in English but of
See also:common use in Norfolk or
See also:peculiar to the East
See also:Angle countries " (
See also:Tract. viii. in
See also:Wilkins's ed. of
See also:Works, iv . 205) . The earlier uses of the word seem to be confined to that of bodily dexterity . In this sense it took the place of a use of " deliver " as an adjective, meaning nimble, literally "
See also:free in
See also:action," a use taken from Fr. delivre (
See also:Lat. deliberare, to set free), cf .
See also:Chaucer, Prologue to Caht . Tales, 84, " wonderly deliver and grete of strength," and Romaunt of the
See also:Rose, 831, " Deliver, smert and of gret might." It has been suggested that " clever " is a corruption of " deliver " in this sense, but this is not now accepted . The earliest use of the word for
See also:mental quickness and ability in the New English Dictionary is from
See also:Addison in No . 22 of The Freeholder (1716) .
STEPHEN GROVER CLEVELAND (1837-1908)
CLEVES (Ger. Cleve or Kleve)
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