Hello ! Have a question . Firstly I have to tell ya I'm not an English native speaker . The problem is that everytime when I look up the meaning of a word , you know , in many dictionaries they give you an explanation using only a short definition and many times I cannot get to know if a word I want to check sounds positive to native speakers or maybe sounds a little negative . As you know , native speakers feel if it sounds good or bad to them , if it violates their personal values or not etc. I'd like to ask you for help with some words . I don't know if they express rather witty , positive meaning or maybe they're connected with being a little cruelEmotion: smile :

- to banter

- canny shrewd cunning crafty sly

The second question is what are the differences between these words :


When can we use all of them and when we can't ?

Thanx in advance !Emotion: smile
I'll respond independently of Fluffy's post, so I may duplicate some remarks.

- to banter -- to engage in witty conversation, usually done good-naturedly. Some people dislike bantering, but there is certainly nothing intrinsically negative about the word or the activity.

- canny, shrewd -- both of these suggest admirable qualities of a prudent character.

- cunning, crafty, sly -- these, on the other hand, are often applied in a derogatory sense, and increase in derogation in the order they are listed here; 'cunning' in particular can also be used in a reasonably laudatory sense.

unwarranted -- with no justification, with no reasonable excuse.
unprovoked -- with no incitement: there was no stimulus from the opponent.
unjustified -- as with unwarranted (I see no significant difference between the two).

These three words are of the same formality and register, so can be used (while considering the difference in meaning) in similar circumstances.
I would be making a criticism if I said that someone "banters." It is never really considered a good thing.

i've never heard of canny, but besides those:

using shrewd is cruel

cunning and crafty are complimentary

sly could go either way; often times sly is used sarcastically. the phrase "You sly dog" comes to mind. hard to explain.

As for the other words. They all have similar meaning. For example, if somebody walked up to me and hit me for no reason, I could use any of these words.

"it was an unwarranted attack" - there was no reason for it
"he was unprovoked" - I did not do anything to make him want to attack me
"he was unjustified" - there was no reason for it, similar to unwarranted, but it implies legality or rules perhaps.

arg, anyone else wanna help
 Mister Micawber's reply was promoted to an answer.