wheedle

verb
whee·​dle | \ ˈ(h)wē-dᵊl How to pronounce wheedle (audio) \
wheedled; wheedling\ ˈ(h)wēd-​liŋ , ˈ(h)wē-​dᵊl-​iŋ How to pronounce wheedle (audio) \

Definition of wheedle

transitive verb

1 : to influence or entice by soft words or flattery
2 : to gain or get by wheedling wheedle one's way into favor

intransitive verb

: to use soft words or flattery

Choose the Right Synonym for wheedle

cajole, coax, soft-soap, blandish, wheedle mean to influence or persuade by pleasing words or actions. cajole suggests the deliberate use of flattery to persuade in the face of reluctance or reasonable objections. cajoled him into cheating on the final exam coax implies gentle and persistent words or actions employed to produce a desired effect. coaxed the cat out of the tree soft-soap refers to using smooth and somewhat insincere talk usually for personal gain. politicians soft-soaping eligible voters blandish implies a more open desire to win a person over by effusive praise and affectionate actions. legislators blandished with promises of support wheedle suggests more strongly than cajole the use of seductive appeal or artful words in persuading. hucksters wheedling her life's savings out of her

Wheedle Comes Up Often in Literature

Wheedle has been a part of the English lexicon since the mid-17th century, though no one is quite sure how the word made its way into English. (It has been suggested that the term may have derived from an Old English word that meant "to beg," but this is far from certain.) Once established in the language, however, wheedle became a favorite of some of the language's most illustrious writers. Wheedle and its related forms appear in the writings of Wordsworth, Dickens, Kipling, Dryden, Swift, Scott, Tennyson, and Pope, among others.

Examples of wheedle in a Sentence

He wheedled quite a bit of money from her. She pleaded and wheedled, but I wouldn't be swayed.
Recent Examples on the Web Leibovich is, more subtly, a brilliant interviewer able to wheedle not-quite-admissions from his subjects, who give him all the access in the world. Joe Klein, Washington Post, 8 July 2022 Andrew senses an opening to supplant Joseph as her emotional support, and a pretext to wheedle her into breaking up with her fiancé. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 16 June 2022 Harper rents a British country house to work through her trauma, but the men of the local village (all of whom are played by the actor Rory Kinnear) insinuate, belittle and wheedle her, too. New York Times, 16 May 2022 But Kirpal would wheedle the staff, charm Mrs. Tan, tease the aides. Rachel Heng, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 Plaintive, breathless, and more than a little disappointed by the shabbiness of the place, Fagan is a nonthreatening figure, the sort of bloke who might wheedle a free pint in a Clerkenwell pub. Graham Hillard, Washington Examiner, 10 Dec. 2020 His Frank exhibits no concern for his son, but does want to make sure Maggie gets none of the benefit of the trust-fund money Tom had to wheedle out of his father and more sympathetic brother Nate (Josh McKenzie). John Anderson, WSJ, 2 Sep. 2020 Still, when the weather starts to feel more summery — however punishing that summer might be — burger cravings always seem to wheedle their way out of the woodwork. Dominic Armato, azcentral, 28 May 2020 But when Rose-Lynn opens her mouth to sing–her speaking voice has a Glaswegian burr, but her singing voice is all Tennessee–you’re wheedled into forgetting her flaws and sins and wanting only the best for her and her kids. Stephanie Zacharek, Time, 20 June 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wheedle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wheedle

circa 1661, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for wheedle

origin unknown

Learn More About wheedle

Time Traveler for wheedle

Time Traveler

The first known use of wheedle was circa 1661

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About wheedle

Dictionary Entries Near wheedle

whee

wheedle

wheedlingly

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wheedle

Last Updated

19 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wheedle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wheedle. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for wheedle

wheedle

verb
whee·​dle | \ ˈhwē-dᵊl How to pronounce wheedle (audio) , ˈwē- \
wheedled; wheedling

Kids Definition of wheedle

1 : to get (someone) to think or act a certain way by flattering : coax "You're such a good cook, you make dinner," she wheedled.
2 : to gain or get by coaxing or flattering He's trying to wheedle money out of them.

More from Merriam-Webster on wheedle

Nglish: Translation of wheedle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wheedle for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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