See more 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.
  3. possessed of or characterized by scholarly knowledge or learning; learned; erudite: wise in the law.
  4. having knowledge or information as to facts, circumstances, etc.: We are wiser for their explanations.
  5. Slang. informed; in the know: You're wise, so why not give us the low-down?
  6. 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.
  1. be/get wise to, Slang. to be or become cognizant of or no longer deceived by; catch on: to get wise to a fraud.
  2. get wise, Slang.
    1. to become informed.
    2. to be or become presumptuous or impertinent: Don't get wise with me, young man!
  3. 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.

Origin of wise

before 900; Middle English (adj.), Old English wīs; cognate with Dutch wijs, German weise, Old Norse vīss, Gothic -weis; akin to wit1
Related formswise·ly, adverb

Synonyms for wise

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Antonyms for wise

1, 2. foolish.


  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

before 900; Middle English, Old English: way, manner; melody (OE); cognate with Dutch wijze, German Weise manner, melody, Old Norse vīsa short poem, Danish vise ballad; akin to Greek eîdos form, shape


verb (used with object), wised, wis·ing.
  1. Chiefly Scot.
    1. to instruct.
    2. to induce or advise.
    3. to show the way to; guide.
  2. Scot. to direct the course of; cause to turn.

Origin of wise

before 900; Middle English wisen, Old English wīsian to show the way, guide, direct, akin to wīs wise1; cognate with Old High German wīsan, Old Norse vīsa


  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.


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

Usage note

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. 2018

Examples from the Web for wise

Contemporary Examples of wise

Historical Examples of wise

British Dictionary definitions for wise


  1. possessing, showing, or prompted by wisdom or discernment
  2. prudent; sensible
  3. shrewd; craftya wise plan
  4. well-informed; erudite
  5. aware, informed, or knowing (esp in the phrase none the wiser)
  6. slang (postpositive often foll by to) in the know, esp possessing inside information (about)
  7. archaic possessing powers of magic
  8. slang, mainly US and Canadian cocksure or insolent
  9. 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)
  10. put wise (often foll by to) slang to inform or warn (of)
  1. See wise up
Derived Formswisely, adverbwiseness, noun

Word Origin for wise

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


  1. 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


adv combining form
  1. Also: -ways indicating direction or mannerclockwise; likewise
  2. 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

Word Origin and History for wise

Old English wis, from Proto-Germanic *wisaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian wis, Old Norse viss, Dutch wijs, German weise "wise"), from past participle adjective *wittos of PIE root *weid- "to see," hence "to know" (see vision). Slang meaning "aware, cunning" first attested 1896. Related to the source of Old English witan "to know, wit."

A wise man has no extensive knowledge; He who has extensive knowledge is not a wise man. [Lao-tzu, "Tao te Ching," c.550 B.C.E.]

Wise guy is attested from 1896, American English. Wisenheimer, with mock German or Yiddish surname suffix, first recorded 1904.


"way of proceeding, manner," Old English wise, ultimately from the same source as wise (adj.). Cf. Old Saxon wisa, Old Frisian wis, Danish vis, Middle Dutch wise, Dutch wijs, Old High German wisa, German Weise "way, manner." Most common in English now as a suffix (e.g. likewise). For sense evolution from "to see" to "way of proceeding," cf. cognate Greek eidos "form, shape, kind," also "course of action." Ground sense is "to see/know the way."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.