The adjective skillful is a general term for describing competence and expertness. Adroit is a strong synonym for skillful that also conveys facility and ease of performance, but this less common adjective emphasizes cleverness and resourcefulness. An adroit politician, for instance, may be particularly skilled at maneuvering various levers of power and persuasion to accomplish his or her goals. Dexterity and agility, both physical and mental, are key to the meaning and uses of this well-versed word.
The nouns trickery and chicanery both denote deception, but chicanery is usually used of questionable legal, financial, or political maneuvering that involves deliberately misleading language or subterfuge. Trickery is not always attached to mal intent—sometimes this word is used of crafty moves that misdirect or mislead in some ingenious way. Chicanery, however, almost always implies taking advantage of a situation for petty purposes.
To imitate someone or something is to follow that person or thing as a model or example. In some cases, imitate means simply “to mimic,” as mischievous schoolchildren might a teacher behind their back. The verb emulate suggests more purposeful action and striving: this verb means “to try to equal or excel” or sometimes “to rival with some degree of success.” If a child emulates their father as a concert violinist, it means they are imitating him with effort to equal or surpass his accomplishments or skill. The competitive spirit of emulate gives this verb a clear edge over imitate when ambition is at play.