[ wahyz ]
See synonyms for wise on Thesaurus.com
adjective,wis·er, wis·est.
  1. having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.

  2. characterized by or showing such power; judicious or prudent: a wise decision.

  1. possessed of or characterized by scholarly knowledge or learning; learned; erudite: wise in the law.

  2. having knowledge or information as to facts, circumstances, etc.: We are wiser for their explanations.

  3. Slang. informed; in the know: You're wise, so why not give us the lowdown?

  4. Archaic. having knowledge of magic or witchcraft.

verb (used with object),wised, wis·ing.
  1. Slang. to make wise or aware: I'll wise you, kid.

Verb Phrases
  1. wise up, Slang. to make or become aware of a secret or generally unknown fact, situation, attitude, etc.: They wised him up on how to please the boss.She never wised up to the fact that the joke was on her.

Idioms about wise

  1. get wise, Slang.

    • to become informed.

    • to be or become presumptuous or impertinent: Don't get wise with me, young man!

  2. put / set someone wise, Slang. to inform a person; let a person in on a secret or generally unknown fact: Some of the others put him wise to what was going on.

  1. wise to, Slang. familiar or aware; cognizant of; no longer deceived by a lie, confidence game, trick, or misdirection: In the end, the investors were wise to the fraud.: Also be / get wise to .

Origin of wise

First recorded before 900; Middle English wis(e), Old English wīs; cognate with Dutch wijs, German weise, Old Norse vīss, Gothic (un)weis “ignorant, unlearned”; akin to wit1, wit2

Other words for wise

Opposites for wise

Other words from wise

  • wise·ly, adverb

Other definitions for wise (2 of 5)

[ wahyz ]

  1. way of proceeding or considering; manner; fashion (usually used in combination or in certain phrases): otherwise;in any wise;in no wise.

Origin of wise

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English: “way, manner; style, melody”; cognate with Dutch wijze, German Weise “tune, melody; (figurative) manner, way,” Old Norse vīsa “verse, stanza, short poem,” Danish vise “ballad”; akin to Greek eîdos (from weîdos ) “form, shape”

Other definitions for wise (3 of 5)

[ wahyz ]

verb (used with object),wised, wis·ing.
  1. Chiefly Scot.

    • to instruct.

    • to induce or advise.

    • to show the way to; guide.

  2. Scot. to direct the course of; cause to turn.

Origin of wise

First recorded before 900; Middle English wisen, “to advise, reveal, guide,”Old English wīsian “to show the way, guide, direct,” akin to wīs wise1; cognate with Old High German wīsan, Old Norse vīsa “to point out, indicate”

Other definitions for Wise (4 of 5)

[ wahyz ]

  1. Isaac May·er [mahy-er], /ˈmaɪ ər/, 1819–1900, U.S. rabbi and educator, born in Bohemia: founder of Reform Judaism in the U.S.

  2. Stephen Samuel, 1874–1949, U.S. rabbi, theologian, and Zionist leader; born in Hungary.

Other definitions for -wise (5 of 5)


  1. a suffixal use of wise2 in adverbs denoting manner, position, direction, reference, etc.: counterclockwise; edgewise; marketwise; timewise.

confusables note For -wise

The suffix -wise is old in the language in adverbs referring to manner, direction, etc.: crosswise; lengthwise. Coinages like marketwise, saleswise, and weatherwise are often criticized, perhaps because of their association with the media: Otherwise—or moneywise, as they were already saying in the motion-picture industry—Hollywood was at the crest of its supercolossal glory. This suffix should not be confused with the adjective wise1 , which appears in such compound words as streetwise and worldly-wise.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use wise in a sentence

  • The most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them.

  • A wise man hateth not the commandments and justices, and he shall not be dashed in pieces as a ship in a storm.

  • She is quite true, but not wise, and your left hand must not know what your right hand is doing.

    Checkmate | Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
  • There are three things a wise man will not trust: the wind, the sunshine of an April day, and woman's plighted faith.

    Pearls of Thought | Maturin M. Ballou
  • It's an idle question, I know; wise men and musty philosophers say that regrets are foolish.

    Raw Gold | Bertrand W. Sinclair

British Dictionary definitions for wise (1 of 3)


/ (waɪz) /

  1. possessing, showing, or prompted by wisdom or discernment

  2. prudent; sensible

  1. shrewd; crafty: a wise plan

  2. well-informed; erudite

  3. aware, informed, or knowing (esp in the phrase none the wiser)

  4. slang (postpositive often foll by to) in the know, esp possessing inside information (about)

  5. archaic possessing powers of magic

  6. slang, mainly US and Canadian cocksure or insolent

  7. be wise or get wise (often foll by to) informal to be or become aware or informed (of something) or to face up (to facts)

  8. put wise (often foll by to) slang to inform or warn (of)


Origin of wise

Old English wīs; related to Old Norse vīss, Gothic weis, German weise

Derived forms of wise

  • wisely, adverb
  • wiseness, noun

British Dictionary definitions for wise (2 of 3)


/ (waɪz) /

  1. archaic way, manner, fashion, or respect (esp in the phrases any wise, in no wise)

Origin of wise

Old English wīse manner; related to Old Saxon wīsa, German Weise, Old Norse vīsa verse, Latin vīsus face

British Dictionary definitions for -wise (3 of 3)


adv combining form
  1. Also: -ways indicating direction or manner: clockwise; likewise

  2. with reference to: profitwise; businesswise

Origin of -wise

Old English -wisan; see wise ²

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with wise


In addition to the idioms beginning with wise

  • wise guy
  • wise up to

also see:

  • get wise to
  • none the wiser
  • penny wise and pound foolish
  • put wise
  • sadder but wiser
  • word to the wise

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.