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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. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for wiles
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Come home to dinner with us, Tony," his stepmother entreated, with all her smiles and wiles.

    A Humble Enterprise Ada Cambridge
  • But not all the wiles of the fair Belisante could chase the gloom from the face of Sir Amys.

  • I decline to attribute to the hen hoopoe all the wiles of a human coquette.

    Glimpses of Indian Birds Douglas Dewar
  • But for him the wiles of Here boded long toil and grievous peril.

    Museum of Antiquity L. W. Yaggy
  • Essex stiles, Kentish miles, Norfolk wiles, Many men beguiles.

    Rhymes Old and New M.E.S. Wright
British Dictionary definitions for wiles


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 wiles



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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