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

Definition of wily

: full of wiles : crafty a wily negotiator

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Other Words from wily

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

This wily Welshman clearly knew where the back of the net was. SI.com, "Kenny Dalglish: The King of Anfield's All-Time Best XI," 19 June 2019 Bestiaries also disseminated the notions that foxes are wily, that elephants remember well, and that dogs are loyal, among other animal lore. Judith H. Dobrzynski, WSJ, "‘Book of Beasts: The Bestiary in the Medieval World’ Review: Wondrous Records of Animal Lore," 15 June 2019 Director Bart DeLorenzo is a wily hand who tweaks his material into a contemporary context. F. Kathleen Foley, latimes.com, "Review: Joe Orton’s ‘Loot’ cuts with softened edges at the Odyssey," 14 June 2019 And vaccines being developed against some of the world’s wilier pathogens — malaria, HIV, anthrax — are based on strategies that could, according to evolutionary models and lab experiments, encourage pathogens to become even more dangerous. Quanta Magazine, "Vaccines Are Pushing Pathogens to Evolve," 10 May 2018 Marshall underestimated the tenacity of the Communists and the determination of Mao Zedong and his wily negotiator, Zhou Enlai. WSJ, "Who Read What in 2018: Business and Economics," 10 Dec. 2018 Then, if a wily spider slipped past your throat, your esophagus would likely put a stop to any more arachnid nonsense. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Do You Actually Swallow a Bunch of Spiders When You Sleep?," 8 Feb. 2019 Our infatuation stemmed from the film's quirky heroine, whose wily mannerisms charmed us. Natalina Lopez, Town & Country, "Playwright Craig Lucas on His New Broadway Show Amélie," 6 Apr. 2017 Los Caneleros do have a wily coach who has been around the block before. SI.com, "Panama Braces for First World Cup Experience in Challenging Group," 5 June 2018

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.

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First Known Use of wily

14th century, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for wily

Last Updated

25 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for wily

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

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More Definitions for wily



English Language Learners Definition of wily

: full of clever tricks : very clever


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

Kids Definition of wily

: full of tricks : crafty

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More from Merriam-Webster on wily

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wily

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wily

Spanish Central: Translation of wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers

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having a desire to acquire more things

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