artful dodger

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the name of a skillful young pickpocket and rascal in Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens.

Noun[edit]

artful dodger (plural artful dodgers)

  1. (idiomatic) A crafty person who commits minor crimes or behaves in a rather unscrupulous manner.
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women ch. 45:
      Meg made many moral rules, and tried to keep them, but what mother was ever proof against the winning wiles, the ingenious evasions, or the tranquil audacity of the miniature men and women who so early show themselves accomplished Artful Dodgers?
    • 1971 Oct. 4, "The Nation: Crime and Punishment...," Time (retrieved 25 Feb 2014):
      Timothy Mack has spent 13 years spiriting wallets from the pockets and purses of Los Angelenos, an artful dodger's career that has been interrupted by 20 arrests and two jail terms.
    • 2011, P. T. Deutermann, The Edge of Honor, ISBN 9781429922289, p. 183 (Google Preview):
      Perfect little con man and artful dodger, always on the make for some angle or another.
  2. (set phrase) One who deftly evades obstacles, pursuers, inconveniences, or other difficulties.
    • 2003, Michael O'Brien, A Cry of Stone, ISBN 9780898708509, p. 742 (Google Preview):
      I was a pussyfoot, an artful dodger, sidestepping abandoned children, waifs and strays, foundlings, castaways, and junk-people.
    • 2005, Jim Cherry, The Last Stage, ISBN 9781462800285, p. 81 (Google Preview):
      I could see the traps and landmines ahead and avoid them, a real artful dodger.
    • 2007 August 15, Brenda Goodman, "Will No Cage Hold Him? Monkey Again Escapes Zoo," New York Times (retrieved 25 Feb 2014):
      For the second time in two weeks, Oliver, a 9-year-old capuchin monkey at a Mississippi zoo, escaped his cage, and this time, his keepers said he proved to be an even more artful dodger.

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