\ 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

But country, with its many styles and pedigrees, is as wily and clever as its reputation. Hank Stuever, Washington Post, "Ken Burns’s ‘Country Music’ is full of high praise and heartbreak, but short on analysis," 12 Sep. 2019 Unlike most physical targets, which are stationary, digital targets are wily and dynamic. Sue Halpern, The New Yorker, "How Cyber Weapons Are Changing the Landscape of Modern Warfare," 18 July 2019 Pickens could have retired after such a humiliating defeat, but the wily oilman wasn't ready for the golf course just yet. Cyrus Sanati, Fortune, "How Legendary ‘Raider’ T. Boone Pickens Changed the Oil Business—and Every Business," 14 Sep. 2019 Daniel Craig plays the wily detective brought in to untangle the truth in Rian Johnson's old-fashioned all-star whodunit, as the family of Christopher Plummer's famed mystery writer circle like vultures. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Knives Out': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 8 Sep. 2019 Donald Sutherland shows up as a veteran astronaut who just can’t quit the space thing: Even his long, wily eyebrows flare up and out, as if reaching toward the stars. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, "Brad Pitt Can Handle Outer Space But Not His Own Feelings in the Gorgeous Ad Astra," 30 Aug. 2019 Its dreamy, folksy brand of alt-country is a wily mix that deftly peppers in elements of psych rock. Chip Mccabe, courant.com, "Hartbeat Music Festival: Take a listen to the 24 bands that will play for 12 hours on Hartford’s Riverfront Plaza," 27 Aug. 2019 With the help of one especially wily patient (Bruce Dern, part of a nifty supporting ensemble), Zak eventually does make his getaway, exhilarated but at something of a loss. Tom Russo, BostonGlobe.com, "In ‘Peanut Butter Falcon,’ it’s the WWE or bust," 21 Aug. 2019 Rookie police rabbit Judy Hopps works with a wily fox to solve a mysterious case in the mammal metropolis of Zootopia. Los Angeles Times, "Here are the feature and TV films airing the week of Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019," 11 Aug. 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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Statistics for wily

Last Updated

1 Oct 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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