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90s Slang You Should Know

wise guy

Informal. a cocksure, conceited, and often insolent person; smart aleck:
He has a reputation for being a wise guy.
Also called wiseacre.
Origin of wise guy
An Americanism dating back to 1895-1900
Related forms
wise-guy, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wise guy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Afterward an ancient box wagon came rattling up, drawn by two champing cayuses, guided by Pake, the "wise guy" of the bush.

    Two on the Trail Hulbert Footner
  • But the sergeant—say, my Pa knows him well—he's the wise guy.

  • But there always is—and I suppose always will be—the wise guy who thinks he can get away with anything.

    Double Challenge James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • Sometimes you hear a wise guy say: No, no thats contrary to human nature.

    Friar Tuck Robert Alexander Wason
  • Maybe Jig Hollins, wise guy and big mouth, boosted their own selves quite a bit, by contrast.

    The Planet Strappers Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • "Of course he'll eat this red-headed gink," went on the first wise guy.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • Opportunity is something a Fool waits for while the wise guy runs down the road to meet it.

  • The connection from where he was calling to earth, the wise guy said!

    Direct Wire Clee Garson
  • He was a wise guy in the sense that he could be disrespectful in a way that you would accept.

    Warren Commission (8 of 26): Hearings Vol. VIII (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
British Dictionary definitions for wise guy

wise guy

(informal) a person who is given to making conceited, sardonic, or insolent comments
(US) a member of the Mafia
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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Slang definitions & phrases for wise guy


noun phrase

  1. (also wise apple)A person who is ostentatiously and smugly knowing; smart aleck, smart-ass: My little brother is an irrepressible wise guy (1896+)
  2. (also wise hombre)A shrewd and knowing person; a person who is ''wised up'': The wise guys said Frank didn't stand a chance (1896+)
  3. A professional criminal, esp a mob member: The wiseguys like places they're known/ Hanging out at a neighborhood restaurant in the Italian section of Queens, the first thing he learned is that the wiseguys never talk about what they do (1970s+ Underworld)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with wise guy

wise guy

An obnoxious know-it-all, a person who makes sarcastic or annoying remarks, as in the teacher was delighted that the worst wise guy in the class was moving out of town. [ ; second half of 1800s ]
Also see: smart aleck
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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