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

Definition of wily

: full of wiles : crafty a wily negotiator

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 He was tightly marked by left-back Diego Laxalt and was criticised for an overly dramatic reaction to a barge from wily veteran Cristian Rodriguez. SI.com, "Didier Deschamps Warns Rivals That France Still Have Room to Improve After Dispatching Uruguay," 7 July 2018 The clubby, moneyed, wily, cricket-mad conservative compares his insurgency, favorably, to the Viet Cong. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "Arron Banks: The brash British millionaire who backed Brexit, befriended the Russian ambassador and loves Trump," 30 June 2018 This free celebration will feature live music, old-fashioned games, free children’s crafts, food, family fun and the return of wily train robbers as visitors ride the park’s train. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Old-Fashioned Fourth of July offers patriotic fun," 29 June 2018 Many went feral, becoming the ancestors of the wild and wily beasts of Florida rancher history. Vincent Crampton, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Explore Florida's Hardee County: Where Cracker history finds a home," 6 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of wily

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wily

Statistics for wily

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wily

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on wily

What made you want to look up wily? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to move or proceed with twists and turns

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!