\ ˈwī-lē How to pronounce wily (audio) \
wilier; wiliest

Definition of wily

: full of wiles : crafty a wily negotiator

Other Words from wily

wilily \ ˈwī-​lə-​lē How to pronounce wily (audio) \ adverb
wiliness \ ˈwī-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce wily (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for wily

sly, cunning, crafty, wily, tricky, foxy, artful, slick mean attaining or seeking to attain one's ends by guileful or devious means. sly implies furtiveness, lack of candor, and skill in concealing one's aims and methods. a sly corporate raider cunning suggests the inventive use of sometimes limited intelligence in overreaching or circumventing. the cunning fox avoided the trap crafty implies cleverness and subtlety of method. a crafty lefthander wily implies skill and deception in maneuvering. the wily fugitive escaped the posse tricky is more likely to suggest shiftiness and unreliability than skill in deception and maneuvering. a tricky political operative foxy implies a shrewd and wary craftiness usually involving devious dealing. a foxy publicity man planting stories artful implies indirectness in dealing and often connotes sophistication or cleverness. elicited the information by artful questioning slick emphasizes smoothness and guile. slick operators selling time-sharing

Examples of wily in a Sentence

She turned out to be a wily negotiator. a wily judge of character, she takes advantage of car buyers' insecurities to sell them a bigger machine than they really need
Recent Examples on the Web Horford has used his feet and his wily old-man game to slow Antetokounmpo, and Williams’ upper-body strength has forced Antetokounmpo into tough shots. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 6 May 2022 Ukrainian troops have not seemed to suffer any significant morale problems, and throughout the war have been described by U.S. officials as brave and wily in defense of their homeland. Matt Seyler, ABC News, 22 Apr. 2022 This being the nation’s capital, a multiagency task force of more than half a dozen agencies has assembled a dragnet across city, state and federal lands to cage the wily bird. James V. Grimaldi, WSJ, 1 May 2022 Immunologist Katy Rezvani of MD Anderson Cancer Center joins us to explain the massive potential of a new approach to treating wily tumors, one that repurposes human immune cells. Damian Garde, STAT, 29 Apr. 2022 That variety of surfaces, serve types, and scoring gives the game a combination of outdoor tennis–level aerobic challenge with strategy that borders on chess—meaning older, wily players can excel, too. Greg Presto, Smithsonian Magazine, 26 Apr. 2022 The wily veteran has played solidly for the Raptors since he was acquired at the deadline from the San Antonio Spurs. Tom Rende, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2022 Spying swordtails, wily ravens and scheming mongooses are just three examples of the means by which animals make their power plays. Lee Alan Dugatkin, Scientific American, 15 Apr. 2022 The wily politician successfully exploits the frustration and anger of a returning soldier, an Irish immigrant who can’t find work, by convincing him that free Black men have taken his job. Iris Fanger, The Christian Science Monitor, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of wily

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of wily was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near wily

Wiltshire side



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Last Updated

16 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wily. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for wily


\ ˈwī-lē How to pronounce wily (audio) \
wilier; wiliest

Kids Definition of wily

: full of tricks : crafty

More from Merriam-Webster on wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers


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