verb be·guile \ bi-ˈgī(-ə)l , bē- \
|Updated on: 8 Aug 2018

Definition of beguile

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


play \-ˈgī(-ə)l-mənt\ noun


play \-ˈgī-lər\ noun

beguile was our Word of the Day on 01/07/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of beguile in a Sentence

  1. She was cunning enough to beguile her classmates into doing the work for her.

  2. They were beguiled into thinking they'd heard the whole story.

  3. Almost everything in the quaint little town beguiles, from its architecture to its art to its people.

  4. He beguiled the audience with his smooth and seductive voice.

Recent Examples of beguile from the Web

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.

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).”

Origin and Etymology of beguile

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

beguile Synonyms




do a number on, lead one down the garden path (also lead one up the garden path), pull one's leg, pull the wool over one's eyes;

Synonym Discussion of 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

BEGUILE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of beguile for English Language Learners

  • : to trick or deceive (someone)

  • : to attract or interest someone

BEGUILE Defined for Kids


verb be·guile \ bi-ˈgīl \

Definition of beguile for Students

beguiled; beguiling
1 : 2trick, deceive
  • He was beguiled with lies.
2 : to cause time to pass pleasantly
  • … throughout the rest of our night-march he beguiled the way with whistling of many tunes …
  • —Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped
3 : to attract or interest by or as if by charm
  • The scenery beguiled us.

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