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?

Deceive, mislead, delude, and beguile all mean "to lead astray" or "to frustrate," usually by underhandedness. Deceive implies imposing a false idea or belief that causes ignorance, bewilderment, or helplessness (as in "they tried to deceive me about the cost"). Mislead implies a leading astray that may or may not be intentional (as in "I was misled by the confusing sign"). Delude implies deceiving so thoroughly as to obscure the truth (as in "we were deluded into thinking we were safe"). Beguile stresses the use of charm and persuasion in deceiving (as in "they were beguiled by false promises"), and more generally describes the use of that charm to capture another's attention.

Did you know?

The Beguiling History of Beguile

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 in the sense “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, the word took on a new sense, “to charm.” In a similar vein, fun was first recorded at the end of the 17th century as a verb meaning “to hoax or trick (someone).” It wasn’t until the middle of the 19th century that it began to be used as an adjective indicating that something was enjoyable. Amuse likewise started its life as a verb meaning “to divert the attention of (as from the truth or one's real intent).”

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 brothers’ singular achievement is that four decades out, their narratives continue to beguile. Los Angeles Times, 3 Jan. 2023 How Bunny Mellon employed both talent and considerable wealth to create landscapes to beguile the eye. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 18 Nov. 2022 Rai Bachchan is suitably scheming, as is Krishnan as the princess who only cares about the Chola kingdom and is jealous (with reason) of Nandini’s beauty and ability to beguile. Shalini Dore, Variety, 13 Oct. 2022 With each new app, Big Tech mouthpieces try to beguile us with a repackaged version of authenticity. Wired, 7 Aug. 2022 The curators in charge—Emily King, Margaret-Anne Logan, and Duncan Tomlin—beguile with nearly 150 works. Jed Perl, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 Vexed, Julia summons an old school chum, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), and enlists her in a vindictive plot to beguile Malcolm and then break his heart as payback. Natalia Winkelman,, 29 June 2022 Video games are being split into titles geared toward fun and those that beguile us into productivity with points, rewards, and even NFTs. Will Bedingfield, Wired, 13 Jan. 2022 What makes these over-the-top shortcomings especially apparent are the few moments that beguile with (relative) subtlety. New York Times, 24 Oct. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beguile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 6 Feb. 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

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