\ ˈgī(-ə)l How to pronounce guile (audio) \

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 How to pronounce guileful (audio) \ adjective
guilefully \ ˈgī(-​ə)l-​fə-​lē How to pronounce guilefully (audio) \ 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 But Mourinho has been the center of attention since taking over Spurs for lack of guile, as well. Frank Dell’apa,, "The strain of managing Tottenham Hotspur is starting to show on Jose Mourinho," 8 Jan. 2020 Yet the rise of industrialization and the birth of modern capitalism rewarded precisely those attributes that colonial communities were prone to denigrate: aggression, guile, and an overwhelming will to power. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, "Men at Work," 28 Oct. 2019 The most comparable feat to Sherrock’s is probably the victory by Reanne Evans in 2017 at the world snooker championship, another British pub sport that requires precision and guile but not brute strength. Victor Mather, New York Times, "Woman Beats Man at Darts Championship for the First Time," 18 Dec. 2019 The new Natasha Denona Metropolis palette and the Melt Cosmetics Amor Eterno palette are full of pigmented and super-rich colors—including lagoon blue, flamingo coral, and foiled sea foam—that take gumption and guile to pull off. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Holiday Gift Guide: How to Channel Your Inner Maximalist," 6 Dec. 2019 Home runs have become a problem for Melville, a pitcher who relies on pitch command and guile. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Rockies’ Tim Melville ripped for 3 homers as Mets win 6-1," 17 Sep. 2019 A quarter century ago, this sport was simple, clean, easily enjoyed, free of selfishness and guile. Emma Baccellieri,, "A Brief History of the Many Times Baseball Has Died," 29 Aug. 2019 In ancient Greece, Odysseus was scorned for his predilection for overcoming his enemies by guile rather than by hand-to-hand combat. Cian O'driscoll, Quartz, "The myth of victory in modern warfare," 2 Dec. 2019 The Yankees’ patience increased as the game went on, but so did Cole’s guile. Benjamin Hoffman, New York Times, "How the Astros Stifled the Yankees in Game 3," 15 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for guile

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for guile

Last Updated

27 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Guile.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for guile


How to pronounce guile (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of guile

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


\ ˈgīl How to pronounce guile (audio) \

Kids Definition of guile

: the use of clever and often dishonest methods

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More from Merriam-Webster on guile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for guile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with guile

Spanish Central: Translation of guile

Nglish: Translation of guile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guile for Arabic Speakers

Comments on guile

What made you want to look up guile? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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