artful dodger

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See also: Artful Dodger


Alternative forms[edit]


From the nickname of a skillful young pickpocket and rascal in Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens.[1]


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artful dodger (plural artful dodgers)

  1. (idiomatic) A crafty person who commits minor crimes or behaves in a rather unscrupulous manner.
    Synonyms: rapscallion, slyboots, trickster
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, chapter 45, in Little Women:
      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, 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.
    Synonyms: eluder, evader
    • 2003, Michael O'Brien, A Cry of Stone, →ISBN, 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, 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.


  1. ^ Charles Dickens (1867) , “Oliver Walks To London. He Encounters On The Road A Strange Sort Of Young Gentleman”, in Oliver Twist:
    Mr. Dawkin's appearance did not say a vast deal in favour of the comforts which his patron's interest obtained for those whom he took under his protection; but, as he had a rather flightly and dissolute mode of conversing, and furthermore avowed that among his intimate friends he was better known by the sobriquet of 'The Artful Dodger,' Oliver concluded that, being of a dissipated and careless turn, the moral precepts of his benefactor had hitherto been thrown away upon him.