too clever by half


Also found in: Acronyms.
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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: by, 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: by, 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: by, clever, half

too clever by half

annoyingly proud of your intelligence or skill. informal
See also: by, clever, half
References in periodicals archive ?
In reply to your correspondent Bob Hutchinson (Too Clever By Half, 20.3.06), I cannot help feel that the argument about which of the two main political parties well educated people vote for is very much outdated.
A few mechanics are too clever by half. They think the breather valve on the winch's gearbox is a grease fitting.
They were attacked as plotters, assassins and worse, as men too clever by half and not just by Protestants.
But this time, he has been too clever by half. He's changed the subject but failed his core responsibility: to deal with the real and present danger of an economic meltdown.
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. Still, whatever the implausibilities found here, Kiberd has succeeded in finding a new and interesting way of talking about the totality of the Irish experience (if one allows for the - significant - omission of some of the Ulster Presbyterian writers dealt with earlier by Terence Brown).
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. Both books convey a strong sense of betrayal as they describe the Bush administration seducing, frustrating, and finally abandoning its many young and ideology-driven staffers.
TOO CLEVER BY HALF Tom Cleverley thumps home the Watford winner to put the seal on a great comeback at Selhurst Park
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.
Just as bankers brought misery to millions as a result of investment choices that were too clever by half, a deeply flawed expansion plan has left Southern Cross's management with the twin challenges of balancing the books and protecting the 31,000 residents.
A confident performer and clever, but some might say too clever by half. Bedser succeeds brilliantly in getting under the skin of cabinet members, deputy council leader Paul Tilsley in particular.
Obviously, not for merely being funny (rather being "funny peculiar"), but one can't help but imagine that he was felt to be too clever by half and therefore deserving of his come-uppance.