whee·​dle | \ ˈ(h)wē-dᵊl How to pronounce wheedle (audio) \
wheedled; wheedling\ ˈ(h)wēd-​liŋ , ˈ(h)wē-​dᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce wheedle (audio) \

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 Plaintive, breathless, and more than a little disappointed by the shabbiness of the place, Fagan is a nonthreatening figure, the sort of bloke who might wheedle a free pint in a Clerkenwell pub. Graham Hillard, Washington Examiner, "Queen and country," 10 Dec. 2020 His Frank exhibits no concern for his son, but does want to make sure Maggie gets none of the benefit of the trust-fund money Tom had to wheedle out of his father and more sympathetic brother Nate (Josh McKenzie). John Anderson, WSJ, "‘The Sounds’ Review: Crime, Sabotage and Sweeping Seascapes," 2 Sep. 2020 Still, when the weather starts to feel more summery — however punishing that summer might be — burger cravings always seem to wheedle their way out of the woodwork. Dominic Armato, azcentral, "3 of the best restaurants for takeout burgers in metro Phoenix this week," 28 May 2020 But when Rose-Lynn opens her mouth to sing–her speaking voice has a Glaswegian burr, but her singing voice is all Tennessee–you’re wheedled into forgetting her flaws and sins and wanting only the best for her and her kids. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Country Music Crosses the Pond in Wild Rose," 20 June 2019 One of the latter, Hugh Dancy’s Charlie, tries, almost successfully, to wheedle her into bed; another, Reid Scott’s Tom, the show’s head monologue writer, feels threatened and tries to block her best ideas. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Review: Late Night Is a Pitch-Perfect Workplace Comedy," 7 June 2019 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

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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Time Traveler

The first known use of wheedle was circa 1661

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Cite this Entry

“Wheedle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wheedle. Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for wheedle



English Language Learners Definition of wheedle

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


whee·​dle | \ ˈhwē-dᵊl How to pronounce wheedle (audio) , 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

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