be·​guile bi-ˈgī(-ə)l How to pronounce beguile (audio)
beguiled; beguiling

transitive verb

: hoodwink
beguiled her classmates into doing the work for her
: to engage the interest of by or as if by guile
His seductive voice beguiled the audience.
: to lead by deception
beguiled into ambush
: to while away especially by some agreeable occupation
also : divert sense 2
The seven poems were written to beguile the tedium of a sea voyage. Vernon Louis Parrington

intransitive verb

: to deceive by wiles
had intended to beguile
beguilement noun
beguiler noun

Did you know?

A number of English words have traveled a rather curious path from meanings related to deception or trickery to something less unwelcome. A prime example is beguile, which first appeared in English around the 13th century with the meaning “to lead or draw by deception.” For the next several centuries, most of the senses of the verb had to do, in one manner or another, with deceiving. Around the time of Shakespeare, however, a more appealing sense charmed its way into the English language and hasn’t left since: “to attract or interest someone,” or in other words, “to charm.” Nowadays, you’re just as likely to hear beguile applied to someone who woos an audience with charisma, as to a wily trickster who hoodwinks others to get their way.

Choose the Right Synonym for beguile

deceive, mislead, delude, beguile mean to lead astray or frustrate usually by underhandedness.

deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness.

tried to deceive me about the cost

mislead implies a leading astray that may or may not be intentional.

I was misled by the confusing sign

delude implies deceiving so thoroughly as to obscure the truth.

we were deluded into thinking we were safe

beguile stresses the use of charm and persuasion in deceiving.

was beguiled by false promises

Example Sentences

She was cunning enough to beguile her classmates into doing the work for her. They were beguiled into thinking they'd heard the whole story. Almost everything in the quaint little town beguiles, from its architecture to its art to its people. He beguiled the audience with his smooth and seductive voice.
Recent Examples on the Web The difference is very slight for now, but the trend line is positive, perhaps becoming more pronounced when the weather warms and hitters get additional looks at the pitchers beguiling them. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, 27 Apr. 2023 Their 8-year-old daughter, Princess Charlotte, beguiled onlookers in an ivory silk crepe dress by the designer Alexander McQueen — a miniature version of the dress worn by her mother. Mark Landler, New York Times, 6 May 2023 Their 8-year-old daughter, Princess Charlotte, beguiled onlookers in an ivory silk crepe dress and cape by designer Alexander McQueen. Mark Landler,, 6 May 2023 Davis and cinematographer Sara Garth (with the assist of Esin Aydingoz’s score) make these plastic figurines beguiling, glamorous characters. Lisa Kennedy, Variety, 1 May 2023 You’re beguiled into believing that there is nothing this actress can’t do. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 24 Apr. 2023 The fresh trout gravlax, served with fennel in three textures, is a bold match for the winery’s Tinto Histórico blend of Malbec and Petit Verdot, while Catena’s beguiling Vino Natural Ancestral Moscatel sets the stage for a finale of cheese and confitures. Katie Kelly Bell, Robb Report, 8 Apr. 2023 Gifts for Wine Lovers That Are More Creative Than a Bottle of Cabernet Florals mix with sandalwood and cedar in this beguiling French scent, which will linger all day after mom smooths on Le Labo's silky lotion. Lauren Hubbard,, 4 Apr. 2023 Bejeweled with a generous dose of diamonds and sprinkled with emerald eyes, this beguiling ring promises to dazzle for years to come. Jennifer Jenkins, Harper's BAZAAR, 6 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beguile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English bigilen, beguilen, from bi-, be- be- + gile guile or gilen "to deceive, cheat," borrowed from Old French guiler, derivative of guile

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of beguile was in the 13th century


Dictionary Entries Near beguile

Cite this Entry

“Beguile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​guile bi-ˈgī(ə)l How to pronounce beguile (audio)
beguiled; beguiling
: to deceive by cunning means
was beguiled into thinking everything was all right
: to draw notice or interest by charm
a beguiling manner
it is the scenery that beguiles the tourists
: to cause time to pass pleasantly
beguile the time by telling stories
beguilement noun
beguiler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on beguile

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