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[wahyl] /waɪl/
a trick, artifice, or stratagem meant to fool, trap, or entice; device.
wiles, artful or beguiling behavior.
deceitful cunning; trickery.
verb (used with object), wiled, wiling.
to beguile, entice, or lure (usually followed by away, from, into, etc.):
The music wiled him from his study.
Verb phrases
wile away, to spend or pass (time), especially in a leisurely or pleasurable fashion:
to wile away the long winter nights.
Origin of wile
late Old English
1125-75; (noun) Middle English; late Old English wil, perhaps < Old Norse vēl artifice, earlier *wihl-
Related forms
outwile, verb (used with object), outwiled, outwiling.
Can be confused
while, wile.
1, 2. deception, contrivance, maneuver. See trick. 3. chicanery, fraud. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wile
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Now, by some pretext, by some wile, he must live to see her once more.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Without a double of any kind,—a creature that does not know a wile or a stratagem!

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
  • But I had rather she had more earthliness and wile than be the pawn of Venice.

    The Royal Pawn of Venice

    Mrs. Lawrence Turnbull
  • When every other wile had been tried in vain, he got Archie to propose a game with forfeits.

    Eight Cousins Louisa M. Alcott
  • She would be possessed of every art and wile of the women of her trade.

    The Heart of Unaga Ridgwell Cullum
  • When they paid their checks they wooed her with every wile known to Cupid's art.

  • The lion was indeed aroused at last, and whip or goad or wile of no avail.

    A Modern Chronicle, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for wile


trickery, cunning, or craftiness
(usually pl) an artful or seductive trick or ploy
(transitive) to lure, beguile, or entice
Word Origin
C12: from Old Norse vel craft; probably related to Old French wīle, Old English wīgle magic. See guile
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wile

mid-12c., wil "wile, trick," perhaps from Old North French *wile (Old French guile), or directly from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse vel "trick, craft, fraud," vela "defraud"). Perhaps ultimately related to Old English wicca "wizard" (see Wicca). Lighter sense of "amorous or playful trick" is from c.1600. Wily is attested from c.1300.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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