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 wiles

Contemporary Examples of wiles

Historical Examples of wiles

  • Al. “Hud a phyd,” “The valour of the forward Elphin had recourse to wiles and stratagems.”

    Y Gododin


  • But with the captain her wiles were not so readily successful.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Who ever equalled us in all the wiles and schemes of mankind?

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • She has wiles and ways which, with her beauty, make her nigh irresistible.'

    Lord Kilgobbin

    Charles Lever

  • But for her and her wiles I had never been married to your father!

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for wiles



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 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