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, wil·ing.

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

1125–75; (noun) Middle English; late Old English wil, perhaps < Old Norse vēl artifice, earlier *wihl-
Related formsout·wile, verb (used with object), out·wiled, out·wil·ing.
Can be confusedwhile wile

Synonyms for wile

1, 2. deception, contrivance, maneuver. See trick. 3. chicanery, fraud.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wile

Contemporary Examples of wile

Historical Examples of wile

  • Now, by some pretext, by some wile, he must live to see her once more.

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for wile



trickery, cunning, or craftiness
(usually plural) an artful or seductive trick or ploy


(tr) to lure, beguile, or entice

Word Origin for wile

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

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