[ wahyz ]
/ waɪz /
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adjective, wis·er, wis·est.
verb (used with object), wised, wis·ing.
Slang. to make wise or aware: I'll wise you, kid.
Verb Phrases
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.
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Idioms about wise

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


wise·ly, adverb

Other definitions for wise (2 of 5)

[ wahyz ]
/ waɪz /

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 ]
/ waɪz /

verb (used with object), wised, wis·ing.
Chiefly Scot.
  1. to instruct.
  2. to induce or advise.
  3. to show the way to; guide.
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 ]
/ waɪz /

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

Other definitions for wise (5 of 5)


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

words often confused with -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


What does -wise mean?

The suffixwise meaning “direction” or “a way of doing.” It is occasionally used in a variety of everyday terms, particularly to indicate a movement.

The form –wise comes from Old English wíse, meaning “way, manner; style, melody.” Yes, melody. Discover why at our entry for the related term verse.

Examples of -wise

An example of a word you may have encountered that features –wise is clockwise, “in the direction of the rotation of the hands of a clock.”

The clock part of the word refers, of course, to the device that tells time. We know that –wise means “direction.” Clockwise literally translates to “in the direction of a clock,” i.e., in rotation from the left to the right.

What are some words that use the combining form –wise?

What are some other forms that –wise may be commonly confused with?

Not every word that ends with the exact letters –wise, such as worldly-wise or overwise, is necessarily using the suffix –wise to denote “direction.” Learn why overwise means “too smart” at our entry for the word.

Break it down!

Given the meaning of the suffix –wise, what does edgewise mean?

How to use wise in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wise (1 of 3)

/ (waɪz) /


Derived forms of wise

wisely, adverbwiseness, noun

Word Origin for wise

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

British Dictionary definitions for wise (2 of 3)

/ (waɪz) /

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

Word Origin for 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
Also: -ways indicating direction or mannerclockwise; likewise
with reference toprofitwise; businesswise

Word Origin for -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


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