\ 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 wily (audio) \ adverb
wiliness \ ˈwī-​lē-​nəs How to pronounce wily (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 Jason Heil is commanding in four roles, particularly as Roger, William’s wily attorney who has been like a son to him over the years. San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Oct. 2021 But the zebras have proved to be a wily bunch, foiling the effort week after week. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 3 Oct. 2021 But the reason isn’t just their design, or the wily nature of the virus, or heavy and frequent exposures, though those factors all play a role. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 9 Sep. 2021 But the Hollywood veteran is too wily to allow himself to be used politically; his public statements duck and dodge expectations. Armond White, National Review, 17 Sep. 2021 He’s all slippery elegance and wily charm, someone whose mere presence renders words superfluous. Los Angeles Times, 3 Sep. 2021 There are good sinister scenes like one in which Phil sits playing the banjo, mocking the piano piece that Rose is rehearsing in nervous anticipation of a dinner party with the governor (played by a wily Keith Carradine). Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 2 Sep. 2021 The post-9/11 fashion industry puts a premium on fresh faces and wily entrepreneurs. Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2021 Viruses are wily, seeking out and infecting vulnerable hosts at all costs. Time, 26 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near wily

Wiltshire side



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Last Updated

19 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wily.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wily. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on wily

Nglish: Translation of wily for Spanish Speakers


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