too clever by half

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too (something) by half

Far too something; more something than is necessary. Used in the form, "too (something) by half." Primarily heard in UK. Liam is too clever by half, winning every debate he gets into. That child is too noisy by half!
See also: half

too clever by half

Too contrived or arrogant in one's cleverness or intelligence, to the point of being irritating to others. Primarily heard in UK. I think every adolescent goes through a stage where they become too clever by half and begin to think of themselves as the only person who has things figured out. The phones people use these days are all too clever by half—I can barely even use them to make phone calls!
See also: clever, half

too clever by half

If you describe a person or their actions as too clever by half, you mean that they are too clever, in a way that you do not like or in a way that causes problems for them. His many admirers describe him as clever: his enemies as too clever by half. You had to tell the press, didn't you? Too clever by half. Note: Other adjectives are sometimes used instead of clever. He was stylish, angry, and too cool by half.
See also: clever, half

too clever by half

annoyingly proud of your intelligence or skill. informal
See also: clever, half
References in periodicals archive ?
CITROEN has learned its lesson from the last C5 which tried to be too clever by half, and the new version is not only free of design gimmicks but is much more driver-involving and driver-friendly.
Too Clever By Half was a guitar-based track in a similar vein to some songs on our first album, so we made it into a disco track, like Donna Summer.
Then when someone comes up with a unique slant on something, he's deemed to be too clever by half.
It's not just David Mamet's extensive writings about writing that have led some critics to regard him as a dangerously self-conscious dramatist, too clever by half.
Pundits are being too clever by half when they postulate on the effect that the bust-up with Cristiano Ronaldo had on him, or the resentment caused by the FA refusing to overturn his three-match ban.
They were attacked as plotters, assassins and worse, as men too clever by half and not just by Protestants.
He's been very clever in both halves, which is, I suppose, why some people say that that Clever Hahn is too clever by half.
Throw in pedaller being someone who literally rides a bike and it's all too clever by half.
Where Michelangelo was prosaic and blunt to the point of flatfooted literalism, Nims's speaker is too clever by half, too distanced by incessantly breezy wit, to let us take his passionate yearnings and ambivalence quite as seriously as he did.
Clinton was too clever by half when he warned against "unwise" spending at the same time he proposed numerous new spending programs.
In fact, the very ease and boldness with which he presents Wilde's career, for example, as the essence of the Irish colonial boy remaking himself in England, while wittily exposing the strategies needed for the enterprise, seems too clever by half.
Podhoretz can turn a good phrase, but his metaphors need pruning--career government officials "attach themselves and their careers to the public trough with glue as strong as barnacles"--and he sometimes comes off as too clever by half.
He remains too clever by half and not half as clever as he thinks.
Osborne's too clever by half and he'll get his just deserts soon enough.
When the new competition structure for the elite end of Rugby League was made public last year there was huge dollops of scepticism - too contrived, too complex, too clever by half.