1 of 2


: a trick or stratagem intended to ensnare or deceive
also : a beguiling or playful trick
: skill in outwitting : trickery, guile


2 of 2


wiled; wiling

transitive verb

: to lure by or as if by a magic spell : entice
[by alteration] : while
Choose the Right Synonym for wile

trick, ruse, stratagem, maneuver, artifice, wile, feint mean an indirect means to gain an end.

trick may imply deception, roguishness, illusion, and either an evil or harmless end.

the tricks of the trade

ruse stresses an attempt to mislead by a false impression.

the ruses of smugglers

stratagem implies a ruse used to entrap, outwit, circumvent, or surprise an opponent or enemy.

the stratagem-filled game

maneuver suggests adroit and skillful avoidance of difficulty.

last-minute maneuvers to avert bankruptcy

artifice implies ingenious contrivance or invention.

the clever artifices of the stage

wile suggests an attempt to entrap or deceive with false allurements.

used all of his wiles to ingratiate himself

feint implies a diversion or distraction of attention away from one's real intent.

a feint toward the enemy's left flank

Examples of wile in a Sentence

Noun had to use all of her wiles to convince her guests to stay for dinner it took both wile and cajolery to talk him into it Verb her stories of the Old South could wile anyone
Recent Examples on the Web
Soulfully too, as the mythical tale of a hairy man torn asunder by a woman’s wiles is given genuine funk and grit by Turner’s swaggering vocal performance and her own sinewy melody. A.d. Amorosi, Variety, 24 May 2023 Asado Beef’s so tempting in Argentina that even vegetarians have been known to succumb to its wiles. Sorrel Moseley-Williams, CNN, 5 Mar. 2023 Petit just turned 36 but has compiled some of his best seasons in his mid-30s, relying more on precision and wile than velocity. Matt Kawahara, SFChronicle.com, 7 Dec. 2020 As his mother tries to get back to him, Kevin runs wild through the house and uses all his wiles to protect the house from two thieves, played by Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci, determined to break in for a giant Christmas haul. Melissa Locker, Time, 11 Dec. 2019 For Chandler, a pink bunny suit costume activates his sensitive nature, while Phoebe deals with the wiles of her evil twin Ursula. Cady Lang, Time, 3 Oct. 2019 Jason Budd was admirable in the dual roles of Benoit, the put-upon landlord and Alcindoro, the eminently deflatable victim of Musetta's wiles. cleveland.com, 16 Sep. 2019 In this last assignment, von Choltitz proved to be not just a man of conviction but also a man of wile. Jean Edward Smith, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2019
As four survivors of a zombie armageddon, the gang wiles away their boredom by racking up zombie kills and invading swanky homes, one of them occupied by Bill Murray in an excellent shock cameo. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 26 Apr. 2024 So far, McCarthy hasn't been wiling to bring up bipartisan funding legislation that would include Ukraine aid for a vote. Alexandra Hutzler, ABC News, 21 Sep. 2023 Already seasoned travelers, the Americans have strategies for wiling away the time. Anne M. Peterson, Chicago Tribune, 6 July 2023 While some children might peruse Wikipedia for hours on end, others could wile away the hours on video sites. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 23 Mar. 2013 While many beauty brand founders will wile away the afternoon swatching lipsticks or brainstorming packaging, Butler is in the wild forests of Wyoming hand-picking ingredients for her brand Alpyn Beauty. Celia Shatzman, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 Nevertheless, Viceroy Los Cabos cast a spell of pure hedonistic laziness that helped me wile away the day doing nothing but swimming and sipping. Lauren Mowery, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 The immense porch overlooking distant mountains had been Mary Kathryn Watts Patrick's favorite place to seek peace and wile away hours with friends. Mike Masterson, Arkansas Online, 25 Oct. 2020 There’s lots to eat and some intriguing drinks to wile away the time. Beth Segal, cleveland, 5 June 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wile.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Middle English wil, perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse vēl deceit, artifice

First Known Use


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wile was in the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near wile

Cite this Entry

“Wile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wile. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a trick intended to deceive or trap
: skill in tricking
: guile


2 of 2 verb
wiled; wiling
: to lure by or as if by a magic spell

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