\ˈgī(-ə)l \

Definition of guile 

1 : deceitful cunning : duplicity a war that called for guile rather than firepower

2 obsolete : stratagem, trick

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Other Words from guile

guileful \ˈgī(-ə)l-fəl \ adjective
guilefully \ˈgī(-ə)l-fə-lē \ adverb
guilefulness noun

Examples of guile in a Sentence

By the end of Liebling's dispatch, Mollie has become a mythic figure invulnerable to death, capable of great feats of courage and guile, and able to transform himself into any human type for the purposes of disguise. — Lee Siegel, Harper's, December 2004 The going was painfully slow, but Chickenhound consoled himself on the long journey by boosting his own ego. "Maybe a silly bunch of rats could put one over on Sela. Huh, she was old and had lost a lot of her guile. Not like me! They hadn't reckoned with a smart intelligent young fox like I am." — Brian Jacques, Redwall, (1986) 2002 Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent; it was full of the twists and defences of an instinctive guile. — Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, 1920 a shady salesman who usually relies on a combination of quick thinking and guile a person so full of guile he can't even be trusted to give you the correct time of day
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Recent Examples on the Web

Croatia ultimately, had more raw skill and also more guile. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why England's World Cup pain hurts so much," 11 July 2018 And then Salah danced past Sergio Ramos, a player whose grace and guile encapsulate his team. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Real Madrid Beats Liverpool in Champions League Final on a Wonder and Two Blunders," 27 May 2018 Yes, but don’t cry.’’ In Churchill’s bleak and unsparing vision, life is a relentless battle, requiring stoicism, and a jigsaw puzzle, requiring guile. Don Aucoin,, "A top-notch ‘Top Girls’ at the Huntington," 26 Apr. 2018 The former's rock hard physicality coupled with the latter's defensive guile and brains led them to five Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy with Manchester United., "6 Player Partnerships That Wouldn't Have Succeeded Without One Another," 10 June 2018 Instead of using guile to reclaim their homes, some species are wising up to the idea of avoiding us altogether. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Humans Created the Ultimate Superpests," 9 July 2018 While South Korea lacked the guile to open up the German defence having to play a spectator role for large spells and needed someone to take charge of the game. Nathan Hilditch, Pro Soccer USA, "South Korea 2-0 Germany: Champions curse strikes again as Germany exits World Cup," 27 June 2018 Corey Pavin won the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on guile and short-game mastery, famously hitting a 4-wood safely onto the green on the 72nd hole to ensure victory. Gary D'amato, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "D'Amato: Can a golfer with limited power still win the U.S. Open?," 9 June 2018 If Colon, who will turn 45 on Thursday, is hanging on to the vestiges of his professional career — getting by with one pitch (a fastball) and a belly full of guile — Torres, 21, is continuing to assert his arrival. New York Times, "Yankees Keep the Home Runs Flying in Win Over Rangers," 21 May 2018

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

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First Known Use of guile

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for guile

Middle English gile, from Anglo-French, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old English wigle divination — more at witch

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Statistics for guile

Last Updated

6 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for guile

The first known use of guile was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for guile



English Language Learners Definition of guile

: the use of clever and usually dishonest methods to achieve something


\ˈgīl \

Kids Definition of guile

: the use of clever and often dishonest methods

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Comments on guile

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not any or not one

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