whee·​dle | \ˈhwē-dᵊl, ˈwē-\
wheedled; wheedling\ ˈ(h)wēd-​liŋ , ˈ(h)wē-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of wheedle 

transitive verb

1 : to influence or entice by soft words or flattery

2 : to gain or get by wheedling wheedle one's way into favor

intransitive verb

: to use soft words or flattery

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Choose the Right Synonym for wheedle

cajole, coax, soft-soap, blandish, wheedle mean to influence or persuade by pleasing words or actions. cajole suggests the deliberate use of flattery to persuade in the face of reluctance or reasonable objections. cajoled him into cheating on the final exam coax implies gentle and persistent words or actions employed to produce a desired effect. coaxed the cat out of the tree soft-soap refers to using smooth and somewhat insincere talk usually for personal gain. politicians soft-soaping eligible voters blandish implies a more open desire to win a person over by effusive praise and affectionate actions. legislators blandished with promises of support wheedle suggests more strongly than cajole the use of seductive appeal or artful words in persuading. hucksters wheedling her life's savings out of her

Wheedle Comes Up Often in Literature

Wheedle has been a part of the English lexicon since the mid-17th century, though no one is quite sure how the word made its way into English. (It has been suggested that the term may have derived from an Old English word that meant "to beg," but this is far from certain.) Once established in the language, however, wheedle became a favorite of some of the language's most illustrious writers. Wheedle and related forms appear in the writings of Wordsworth, Dickens, Kipling, Dryden, Swift, Scott, Tennyson, and Pope, among others.

Examples of wheedle in a Sentence

He wheedled quite a bit of money from her. She pleaded and wheedled, but I wouldn't be swayed.

Recent Examples on the Web

Another is about a very loud teenage neighbor in the West Village who wheedles his way into her psyche. Sophie Haigney, San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Look Alive Out There: Essays,’ by Sloane Crosley," 4 May 2018 Give credit to Gutekunst for wheedling a 2019 first-round pick out of the Saints to move from 14 to 27 in the first round Thursday night. Peter King, SI.com, "2018 Draft: Magnets, Mayfield and the Browns’ Big Secret," 30 Apr. 2018 He and his voice have been described as aloof, eerily neutral, silky, wheedling, controlled, baleful, unisex, droll, soft, conversational, dreamy, supremely calm and rational. Gerry Flahive, New York Times, "The Story of a Voice: HAL in ‘2001’ Wasn’t Always So Eerily Calm," 30 Mar. 2018 For decades, North Korean officials have angled to meet with a high-level U.S. representative using all measures of persuasion, whining, wheedling, threatening and even hostage-taking. Barbara Demick, latimes.com, "Whatever comes next, North Korea's Kim Jong Un can claim a win against Trump," 10 Mar. 2018 McCulloch: You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. Scott Travis, Sun-Sentinel.com, "State orders plagiarizing principal to attend creative writing class," 8 Feb. 2018 Belle was both, often within the same encounter, wheedling information out of Union officers while wearing Confederate garb, often to comic effect. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "Belle Boyd, Civil War Spy," 9 May 2017 Jordan begged and wheedled and cajoled to get his grandmother to part with the recipe. Providence Cicero, The Seattle Times, "At JuneBaby, star chef Edouardo Jordan returns to his Southern roots," 22 June 2017 These are the result of ancient viruses that wheedled their way into our DNA, stayed there, and copied themselves again and again. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "Now That We Can Read Genomes, Can We Write Them?," 10 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wheedle.' 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 wheedle

circa 1661, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for wheedle

origin unknown

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Dictionary Entries near wheedle

wheat weevil







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The first known use of wheedle was circa 1661

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More Definitions for wheedle



English Language Learners Definition of wheedle

: to persuade someone to do something or to give you something by saying nice things


whee·​dle | \ˈhwē-dᵊl, ˈwē-\
wheedled; wheedling

Kids Definition of wheedle

1 : to get (someone) to think or act a certain way by flattering : coax “You're such a good cook, you make dinner,” she wheedled.

2 : to gain or get by coaxing or flattering He's trying to wheedle money out of them.

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Comments on wheedle

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


playful or foolish behavior

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