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(as) artful as a wagonload of monkeys

Impish or mischievous. ("Cartload" can be used instead of "wagonload.") Primarily heard in UK. Don't let those boys sit together—they're as artful as a wagonload of monkeys.
See also: artful, monkey, of, wagonload

artful dodger

A rogue or miscreant who avoids getting in trouble for their crimes, mischief, or bad behavior through crafty or ingenious means. Taken from the name of a clever pickpocket in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. She's always causing mischief, but she's such an artful dodger that she always finds a way to get out of trouble.
See also: artful, dodger
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

as artful (or clever) as a wagonload (or cartload) of monkeys

extremely clever or mischievous. British informal
See also: artful, monkey, of, wagonload
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

Artful Dodger

a sly person, especially one involved in dubious or criminal activities. It was the nickname of Jack Dawkins, a young pickpocket in Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. The character survives in the stage and movie musical Oliver!, which was based on the Dickens novel, but the phrase as applied to a “sneaky Pete” is now rarely if ever heard. “Dodger” in the sense of evading danger inspired the name of the Brooklyn (now Los Angeles) baseball team; in its early years in Brooklyn, the team was the “Trolley Dodgers.” Brooklyn had many streetcar lines, and to play in the streets required youngsters to dodge streetcars, and “trolley dodger” became the slang term for anyone from that borough.
See also: artful, dodger
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
That does not mean, of course, that "artfulness" does not have its own conceptual content.
In other words, a poetry blending difficulty, accessibility, artfulness, and imagination.
Alternatively, experience can be arrested, choked, inhibited, or abbreviated: "Rigid abstinence, coerced submission, tightness on one side and dissipation, incoherence and aimless indulgence on the other, are deviations in opposite directions from the unity of experience." (42) Dewey looked to the potential artfulness of experience--including those artifacts conventionally called works of art--to address these tendencies of fragmentation and lack of integrity: "Through art, meanings of objects that are otherwise dumb, inchoate, restricted, and resisted are clarified and concentrated ...
My kind of elderly social commentator praises him for putting his fortune into a football academy while looking doubtfully at the little boys who are drawn to football less by its human artfulness and more by the hateful corruption of the calls to highly improbably fame.
When we speak about the handiwork of the Macedonian woman and all that distinguishes out nation, we can gladly say that the artfulness to weave and wreathe a handiwork is not the main thing but also the emotions, prayers and all that the Macedonian woman is carrying deep in her soul and heart," said Metropolitan Petar.
If The Promise gets what it deserves, it will be given an airing here and in Israel, injecting a note of artfulness and subtlety into a debate too often dominated by the shrill.
Both papers promised to lift the reader to a meta-level, beyond the old snarly debates about 'correctness' of interpretation (as if that was the only important dimension of the bridge between analyst and patient) and onto a level which brings in the musicality, the artfulness, the timing, the tone and the texture--indeed, the feeling--of an interpretation.
This tragedy should not detract from the artfulness of The Social Network.
With some literary licence, I have created the word 'grammart' (grammar/art) as it encapsulates an 'artfulness' perspective for teaching grammar.
Chris Brandt, vice president of marketing for the Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based company, says he does not consider their products "alternative." Instead, he wants people to view them as beverages that satisfy a wide variety of consumer needs, usage occasions and taste profiles in products that hone in on "the honesty and artfulness that Mother Nature provides."
As Alter says, "The artfulness of biblical parataxis is precisely in its refusal to spell out causal connections, to interpret the reported data for us." Moby-Dick uses parataxis when Melville's narrator says: "The old craft dived deep in the green seas, and sent the shivering frost all over her, and the winds howled, and the cordage rang..." A century later Alter finds Saul Bellow using his own intricate version of parataxis in Seize the Day: Wilhelm respected the truth, but he could lie and one of the things he lied often about was his education.
Cunningham's "The Christian book in medieval Byzantium" is terrific, at once capturing the divinity, artfulness, and physical sensuality of texts.
From artfulness and artlessness to youthfulness and youthlessness, even including awfulness and awlessness, some of the words exist in pairs, but more than half on each list have no opposite number.
The latter is a sporting grocer noted for his vulgarity and good-natured artfulness.