world·​ly-wise ˈwərl(d)-lē-ˌwīz How to pronounce worldly-wise (audio)
variants or less commonly worldly wise
: possessing a practical and often shrewd understanding of human affairs : worldly sense 2
She was pure but practical, idealistic but worldly-wise.Andy Levin
It's a photographic exhibition, pulling together an exceptionally diverse range of works, from the obvious to some which may surprise the most worldly-wise of old souls.Ian Mansfield
Mabel [Loomis Todd] is quite a woman—complex, resilient, worldly wise, smart and way ahead of her time …Nancye Tuttle
Olympia Dukakis, the self-assured, raspy-voiced actress who often played world-weary and worldly wise characters …Anita Gates
Choose the Right Synonym for worldly-wise

sophisticated, worldly-wise, blasé mean experienced in the ways of the world.

sophisticated often implies refinement, urbanity, cleverness, and cultivation.

guests at her salon were usually rich and sophisticated

worldly-wise suggests a close and practical knowledge of the affairs and manners of society and an inclination toward materialism.

a worldly-wise woman with a philosophy of personal independence

blasé implies a lack of responsiveness to common joys as a result of a real or affected surfeit of experience and cultivation.

blasé travelers who claimed to have been everywhere

Examples of worldly-wise in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Heather Alicia Simms and Vanessa Bell Calloway are both sharp, witty, and poignant without sentimentality as the play’s two matriarchal figures, the formidable Missy Judson and Idella Landy, the wry, worldly-wise housekeeper who essentially raised Charlie. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 28 Sep. 2023 Parroni does a good job of balancing the way that adolescents veer from experimenting with a worldly-wise cynicism and dipping back into the wildness of childhood. Catherine Bray, Variety, 9 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'worldly-wise.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of worldly-wise was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near worldly-wise

Cite this Entry

“Worldly-wise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: wise as to things and ways of this world
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