We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Does "Box Clever" Mean?

By Mark Wollacott
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Language & Humanities is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Language & Humanities, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

To “box clever” means someone is using his or her intelligence to get what he or she wants. It means using more than brawn to overcome an obstacle, achieve an aim or to beat an opponent. Boxing clever is different than thinking outside the box, because it is about marshaling resources and deciding upon a strategy, which may or may not require new approaches.

The battle of wits described in “box clever” owes its origin to the sport of boxing. Boxing permeates most cultures in the world, and evidence of it has been around for over 3,000 years. The first cave paintings depicting it were found in ancient Sumeria. Homer was the first to describe the sport at any great length in his epic poem, “The Iliad.”

Since its origins, the sport of boxing has been a game of chess or a contest of minds as well as a physical contest. Like any sport, it is a case of one boxer using his or her limitations to his or her advantage while trying to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. Both the strong and the weak boxer know that one right hook from the stronger boxer will floor the weaker one. Knowing this, the weaker boxer will attempt to “box clever” and outflank his opponent so the feared blow never arrives.

“Box clever” is a literal phrase turned into a figurative idiom. It clearly owes its origin to the sport, but also to philosophical thoughts on warfare. One of the ancient writers who spoke at length about the subject is the Chinese general Sun Tzu. His “Art of War” has become synonymous with strategy and has been applied beyond warfare into many walks of life. In one passage, Sun Tzu’s interpretation of to “box clever” is to exploit an opponent’s character and physical defects; he also suggests that to “box clever” is to choose battles wisely.

The term is commonly applied to political and sporting maneuvers. Someone who is making a clever play is often described as “boxing clever.” Using cricket, as an example, a batsman can box clever by choosing his or her shots wisely. This includes which balls to defend and which to strike and where to strike them. Bowlers will choose their mode of delivery depending on the batsman they are facing and the condition of the wicket.

Box clever has also been used as the name of various companies. This is often a pun on their type of business, whether it is packaging, fuse boxes or removals. It was also the title of an album by the band Farce and a computer game.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Language & Humanities, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.