What is the difference between clever and skillful?
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closed as general reference by Mahnax, Matt E. Эллен♦, FumbleFingers, JSBձոգչ, Robusto Mar 5 '12 at 17:42
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My first thought is that clever implies something done with the mind, whereas skillful implies something done with the hands.
You might have a clever algorithm, but a skilled sculptor.
A clever plumber may figure out a good way to route a pipe, particularly in a situation when there's no straightforward way to do it. A skilled plumber will do a good job soldering the pipes together.
A skilled painter can paint the Mona Lisa. A clever painter can make you wonder what she's smiling about.
I then checked an on-line dictionary, to confirm my initial hunch:
Not too bad, although it's worth noting clever had some secondary meanings I hadn't considered. Clever readers will go investigate.
Clever implies nothing about the amount of effort expended, whereas skillful carries the connotation of having spent considerable time learning or practicing the activity concerned.
In general, cleverness is innate, whereas skills are learned.