\ 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 As the prison’s de facto godfather and Aditya’s mentor, Mustafa is gruff and intimidating but also wily and mischievous. Devarsi Ghosh, Quartz India, "From India’s numerous web originals of 2019, these 10 characters stand out," 26 Dec. 2019 Only time will tell, although that wily Ethan Zohn is off to a pretty good start. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Survivor: Winners at War cast makes bold predictions for season 40," 23 Jan. 2020 If Moro is no longer the untarnished paragon of civic virtue, he is seen by many supporters instead as the wily strategist working every angle—above board or subterranean, as needed—to block a Workers’ Party comeback. Andre Pagliarini, The New Republic, "Brazilian Conservatives Really Hate Glenn Greenwald," 22 Jan. 2020 Her enemies also wanted her out, so that the country’s Vice-President, a wily, corrupt politician who had joined Dilma’s government in a coalition deal, could take over. Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, "The Fracturing of Brazil in “The Edge of Democracy”," 13 Dec. 2019 In supporting roles, the adults—wily battle-ax Aunt March (Meryl Streep), the good-hearted Marmee (Laura Dern), Mr. Laurence (Chris Cooper), and Mr. March (Bob Odenkirk)—give such generous performances as to emerge fully formed. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to Watch in Theaters Over Christmas," 23 Dec. 2019 One in particular seems to be more adaptable than most: the wily coyote. National Geographic, "How far will coyotes go?," 5 Dec. 2019 Delroy Lindo’s majestic as her partner Adrian Boseman, a wily-yet-sensitive operator keeping his firm afloat in treacherous waters. Darren Franich, EW.com, "The best TV shows of the decade," 5 Dec. 2019 As played by the actor Marc Kudisch, this Daley is that familiar New York shorthand for a Chicagoan: wily, lumbering, hefty, beefy, dangerous and profane. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "On Broadway, it’s a fouled-mouthed Richard J. Daley vs. LBJ and progress. Was it really like that?," 1 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for wily

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

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Last Updated

19 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wily. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for wily

How to pronounce wily (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wily

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wily

Spanish Central: Translation of wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers

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