\ ˈwī(-ə)l How to pronounce wile (audio) \

Definition of wile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


wiled; wiling

Definition of wile (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to lure by or as if by a magic spell : entice
2 [by alteration] : while

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun More generally, seduction was understood as the Use of arts, persuasions, or wiles to overcome the resistance of the female who is not disposed, of her volition, to step aside from the path of virtue. . . . Clement Knox, Time, "When U.S. Laws Punished Men for 'Seduction,' Women Were the Ones Who Got Judged," 4 Feb. 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, "This Hilarious Home Alone Legend Involving a $100 Bill Will Make You Scream Louder Than Kevin," 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, "The 20 Best Halloween TV Episodes of All Time," 3 Oct. 2019 Bass Krzysztof Baczyk made his Lyric and American debut as Don Basilio, the singing teacher who, like Bartolo, perpetually falls victim to the others’ wiles. Howard Reich, chicagotribune.com, "Lyric Opera review: A wickedly funny ‘Barber of Seville’ begins season," 29 Sep. 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, "Cleveland Opera Theater kicks off season with ingenious, talent-rich ‘La Boheme’," 16 Sep. 2019 At one point, resigned to the wiles of their quarry, the Le Domases vote to engage the mansion’s security cameras to locate Grace. Eren Orbey, The New Yorker, "“Ready or Not,” a Screwball Take on the Hide-And-Seek Slasher Film," 24 Aug. 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, "The Allies who liberated Paris, and the Nazi who saved it," 22 Aug. 2019 Orphaned and seemingly completely isolated, with no friends or other relatives, Dani is both tethered solely to Christian and vulnerable to the wiles of a surrogate family, however malevolent. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Midsommar,” Reviewed: Ari Aster’s Backwards Horror Story of an American Couple in Sweden," 8 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There’s lots to eat and some intriguing drinks to wile away the time. Beth Segal, cleveland, "Modern mocktails from Greater Cleveland’s top cocktail bars: Imbibing during the new new normal," 5 June 2020 Then riders could wile away the hours waiting for a train by looking for Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in the hopes of catching the Hogwarts Express with Harry Potter and friends. Melissa Locker, Time, "The Internet Is Sending People All Over on a Heart-Warming Treasure Hunt," 21 Dec. 2017 Directed by Carlos Saldanha, Ferdinand is based on the classic children's book about a peace-loving Spanish bull who would rather wile away the hours smelling flowers and daydreaming than taking to the ring to fight. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Heads for $425M-Plus Global Blastoff," 12 Dec. 2017 By Joey Green Periodic table + puns galore = dozens of ways to wile away holiday break with hands-on fun. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "What to Read in December," 10 Nov. 2017 Start your night out with a hefty meal at the Ace or prepare to wile away part of the day exploring the site. Trevor Fraser, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Ace Cafe makes a play to be Orlando hotspot," 13 July 2017 Sorry! is, to my mind, a perfect way to wile away an hour. Heidi Stevens, chicagotribune.com, "Ice cream for dinner: A summer rules checklist for parents," 21 June 2017 Both are Wimbledon veterans and wile away the hours playing cards, reading magazines and chatting to other fans who have set up camp beside them. Aimee Lewis, CNN, "Wimbledon 2017: The art of queuing for the Wimbledon Queue," 5 July 2017 At the bar, patrons wile away the time by sipping classic drinks such as the Gibson, a martini variation. Charles Passy, WSJ, "For Some New York Restaurants, What’s Old Is New," 11 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of wile


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wile


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wile

Time Traveler for wile

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wile

Cite this Entry

“Wile.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wile. Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wile


\ ˈwīl How to pronounce wile (audio) \

Kids Definition of wile

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a trick meant to trap or deceive


wiled; wiling

Kids Definition of wile (Entry 2 of 2)

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on wile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wile

Spanish Central: Translation of wile

Nglish: Translation of wile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wile for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wile

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!