\ 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 Two wily veterans on the mound in an elimination game. BostonGlobe.com, 10 Sep. 2021 The action leaps from a museum in Rome to a getaway in Bali to a prison in coldest Russia, which is where the no-nonsense agent and the wily thief go from reluctant cellmates to reluctant partners. Los Angeles Times, 4 Nov. 2021 This coyote wasn't wily enough to go against Kevin the cat. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, 29 Oct. 2021 Not only has Rubio been an on-court asset, ranking fifth in total assists and quickly becoming a mainstay in Bickerstaff’s closing quintet, but Garland -- one of the core pieces -- has already benefitted from his time with the wily veteran. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 28 Oct. 2021 But given how Texas’ offense has sputtered once the walls start closing in, Sarkisian might help everyone by devising some more wily ways to get Keilan Robinson the ball in space. Nick Moyle, San Antonio Express-News, 19 Oct. 2021 Hecuba, the queen, goes to the wily Odysseus; her daughter-in-law Andromache, Hector’s widow, to Achilles’ son, Pyrrhus; and her daughter Cassandra, a prophetess doomed never to be believed, to the victorious general Agamemnon. Daniel Mendelsohn, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 Jason Heil is commanding in four roles, particularly as Roger, William’s wily attorney who has been like a son to him over the years. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2021 But the zebras have proved to be a wily bunch, foiling the effort week after week. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 3 Oct. 2021

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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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

24 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wily. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers


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