\ 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 Powered by an aggressive, young defense, talented emerging offensive weapons, a wily quarterback and an unflinching, tone-setting head coach, the Steelers are the only unbeaten team in the league. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Marquee teams highlight biggest surprises, disappointments from first half of NFL season," 9 Nov. 2020 On the House side, this meant working with old-school liberals like Henry Waxman, the wily, pugnacious congressman from California and the head of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which had jurisdiction over health care. Barack Obama, The New Yorker, "A President Looks Back on His Toughest Fight," 26 Oct. 2020 Like a wily returner, Nadal will occasionally change direction, taking a question lobbed to him in English and returning it in rapid-fire Spanish. New York Times, "At the French Open, Players Look to the Tao of Rafael Nadal," 11 Oct. 2020 It’s an easygoing tale of a Christmas gathering and a foiled attempt to fool the wily sleuth. Hillel Italie, chicagotribune.com, "Obscure works by Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie published this week," 5 Oct. 2020 But remember this: People who send spam are wily, and getting rid of them is difficult. Steve Alexander, Star Tribune, "Strategies to keep spam from flooding our inbox," 23 Aug. 2020 The wily 16-year veteran and the second-year quarterback already deserving of a nickname. Safid Deen, sun-sentinel.com, "FitzMagic vs. Minshew Mania: Fitzpatrick, Minshew exchange facial hair barbs ahead of Dolphins-Jaguars game," 23 Sep. 2020 In retrospect, both Kesey and Forman’s characterizations of Nurse Ratched—as the frigid embodiment of an institutional femininity that serves to both neuter and negate men’s wily impulses—were shaped by the snickering machismo of their times. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "“Ratched,” Reviewed: A Confused, Caricaturish Origin Story for the “Cuckoo’s Nest” Villainess," 19 Sep. 2020 Poncharal recounts the last few moments of Miguel Oliveira's win with vivid clarity, as the Portuguese lay in third place behind the wily Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller and the hungry Pol Espargaro on a Factory KTM. Jonathan Hawkins, CNN, "Racing's nearly-man Hervé Poncharal finally secures the victory that eluded him for four decades," 10 Sep. 2020

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

11 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wily. Accessed 29 Nov. 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

More from Merriam-Webster on wily

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers

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