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What is that word that is used to say someone "takes advantage of the situation". This word usually has a mildly negative connotation. It is related to being clever.

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Is this a question or a riddle? –  Avner Shahar-Kashtan Aug 26 '12 at 7:25
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As Barrie says, the person is an opportunist. What he does is exploit or capitalise on the situation. –  FumbleFingers Aug 26 '12 at 14:04
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7 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The word closest to that definition is probably opportunist, although historically it has been used in a rather specialised sense.

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I feel that the word most closely associated with taking advantage of a situation is exploit which also carries a slightly negative connotation.

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Cunning, which according to OED means:

1 having or showing skill in achieving one's ends by deceit or evasion: a cunning look came into his eyes.

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Have you considered Exploitative?

exploiting or tending to exploit; especially : unfairly or cynically using another person or group for profit or advantage
"exploitative terms of employment"
"an exploitative film"

Merriam-Webster has its first-known use as 1885.

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Capitalise - draw advantages from; "he is capitalizing on her mistake"; "she took advantage of his absence to meet her lover"

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There is also hustler and wheeler dealer

hustler, wheeler dealer : a shrewd or unscrupulous person who knows how to circumvent difficulties

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For a word with less negative connotations, I would suggest the word astute.

Here's the definition from oxforddictionaries.com:

having or showing an ability to accurately assess situations or people and turn this to one’s advantage: an astute businessman

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