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adjective, wil·i·er, wil·i·est.
  1. full of, marked by, or proceeding from wiles; crafty; cunning.
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Origin of wily

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at wile, -y1
Related formswil·i·ly, adverbwil·i·ness, nouno·ver·wil·y, adjectiveun·wil·y, adjective

Synonyms for wily

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Antonyms for wily

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wiliness

Historical Examples of wiliness

  • Garnache went about sounding the man with a wiliness peculiarly his own.

    St. Martin's Summer

    Rafael Sabatini

  • Bobby smiled up at him in smug satisfaction over his own wiliness.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom.


    Mary W. Shelley

  • "What the brethren wanted in strength they had in wiliness," he says.

    The Beginners of a Nation

    Edward Eggleston.

  • It depends a lot upon the wiliness of the fox he's in pursuit of.

British Dictionary definitions for wiliness


adjective wilier or wiliest
  1. characterized by or proceeding from wiles; sly or crafty
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Derived Formswiliness, noun
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 wiliness



c.1300, from wile + -ly (1). Related: Wiliness.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper