I'm talking of a certain wit that is characteristic of streetboys and streetchildren in general. I'm not sure if streetchildren is the best way to describe these kids. That might not be very common in developed countries, where few people are homeless or deprived of education and other basic rights like how it is the case in the Third world.

On a more general note, I'm referring to children that are not too pampered and have learned to get on by themselves. Clever, fast, handy, quick to learn, and with a sharp tongue. Think Dicken's Artful Dodger.

In contrast to a spoonfed crybaby who has their parents by their side at all times. Pardon the heavily stereotypical descriptions, but that was just to get my point across. And please do try coming up with something more sophisticated than "street-smart" or the like.

A sample to give you an idea of what I'm getting at:

It was amusing to see how he gave out instructions to the others his age labouring and taking orders. His words were slick, typical of a know-all streetsmarty. The big-eyed kid had been trudging past the shady-looking resturant when that boy with a shabby hat whistled at spotting him. "Ye, looking for work, huh?" He jumped down onto the road and made his way towards the trembling child of four.

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    Single-word requests are required to provide a sample sentence showing how the word will be used.... Perhaps your description works as is: “The little Artful Dodger snatched the watch off my wrist so expertly that I didn’t notice it was gone until I got back to the hotel.”
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 22:51
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    Your example suggests a predator ambushing smaller prey. Your question emphasizes "wit" and sleight-of-hand. Are you looking for a single word that suggests danger, intelligence and dexterity? Must the word only apply to street urchins?
    – sippybear
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 23:19
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    Street-smart covers a lot of what you're looking for, but it doesn't necessarily suggest wit or a silver tongue.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 23:21
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    'Witty' usually means 'humorous'. Do you mean it in the sense of 'quick-witted'? Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 9:06
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    "Streetwise" or its synonyms might work, though maybe that's too similar to "street smart" which you have eliminated for some reason. Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 21:57

1 Answer 1


savvy (adj.)

Having or demonstrating common sense; knowledgeable, experienced; knowing, shrewd. OED

Knowledge gained by actually doing or living through something m-w

If you describe someone as savvy, you think that they show a lot of practical knowledge. Collins

Marked by practical hardheaded intelligence

Most English words stem directly from other European languages, like French and Latin. Not savvy. It comes from the West Indies, a twist on the French savez vous? — “Do you know?” Savvy was first recorded in its adjective form in 1905. vocabulary.com

This canine take on Dickens's Artful Dodger is a savvy New York City guide for little Oliver. Christopher Lucas; Top Disney

Contrary to the television generation, the net generation (or N-Geners) were portrayed as hungry for expression, discovery, and their own self-development. Positioned against all the old criticisms of the television generation, they were savvy, self-reliant, analytical, creative, inquisitive, accepting of diversity, socially conscious, and globally oriented. D. T. Cook; The SAGE Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies

We traced the development of the sovereign self through alienation, from naïve will to savvy wit, in the consciousnesses of Richard II and Falstaff. J. A. Bates; Hegel and Shakespeare on Moral Imagination

Some of us think we're only really smart if we have some kind of advanced degree in an important field; that it doesn't really count to be clever or "street smart."
But smart is as smart does—the official definition of the word includes "savvy" as well as "brainy." Jenifer Madson; Head to Heart

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