\ ˈgī(-ə)l How to pronounce guile (audio) \

Definition of guile

1 : deceitful cunning : duplicity a war that called for guile rather than firepower
2 obsolete : stratagem, trick

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Other Words from guile

guileful \ ˈgī(-​ə)l-​fəl How to pronounce guile (audio) \ adjective
guilefully \ ˈgī(-​ə)l-​fə-​lē How to pronounce guile (audio) \ adverb
guilefulness noun

Examples of guile in a Sentence

By the end of Liebling's dispatch, Mollie has become a mythic figure invulnerable to death, capable of great feats of courage and guile, and able to transform himself into any human type for the purposes of disguise. — Lee Siegel, Harper's, December 2004 The going was painfully slow, but Chickenhound consoled himself on the long journey by boosting his own ego. "Maybe a silly bunch of rats could put one over on Sela. Huh, she was old and had lost a lot of her guile. Not like me! They hadn't reckoned with a smart intelligent young fox like I am." — Brian Jacques, Redwall, (1986) 2002 Untrained human nature was not frank and innocent; it was full of the twists and defences of an instinctive guile. — Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence, 1920 a shady salesman who usually relies on a combination of quick thinking and guile a person so full of guile he can't even be trusted to give you the correct time of day
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Recent Examples on the Web Cumberbatch, all sinuous guile and calculated cruelty, haunts their footsteps like Mrs. Danvers in a 10-gallon hat. Thomas Page, CNN, 19 Sep. 2021 So much that belonged to the Abdalahs had through the years been tickled over with a catfishing guile to the munshi’s portion. Daniyal Mueenuddin, The New Yorker, 31 Aug. 2021 Chance, guile, and missteps put the Democrats in this position. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 25 Sep. 2021 The first women’s semifinal, between Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber, was a craft fair, full of slice and guile and often lengthy rallies. New York Times, 8 July 2021 Strengths: Kanter is a rebounding machine who makes up for his lack of athleticism with guile and desire. oregonlive, 30 July 2021 Qantas’ muscular recovery from a crisis that was terminal for many of its peers is a tale of commercial opportunism and political guile. Angus Whitley, Fortune, 26 June 2021 Once a position where a player could survive toughness, guile, blocking ability and a football IQ, tight end now demands a high degree of athletic ability and versatility as offense increasingly involve them in the offense. Edgar Thompson,, 20 May 2021 Yet guile and timely baserunning eked out the win: With two outs and the score tied 2-2 in the fifth, Riggio dashed home from third on a wild pitch. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'guile.' 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 guile

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for guile

Middle English gile, from Anglo-French, probably of Germanic origin; akin to Old English wigle divination — more at witch

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Time Traveler for guile

Time Traveler

The first known use of guile was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near guile

guild tree



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Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Guile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for guile



English Language Learners Definition of guile

: the use of clever and usually dishonest methods to achieve something


\ ˈgīl How to pronounce guile (audio) \

Kids Definition of guile

: the use of clever and often dishonest methods

More from Merriam-Webster on guile

Nglish: Translation of guile for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of guile for Arabic Speakers


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