Definition of wheedle in English:



  • 1 Employ endearments or flattery to persuade someone to do something or give one something.

    ‘you can contrive to wheedle your way onto a court’
    [with direct speech] ‘“Please, for my sake,” he wheedled’
    • ‘Despite the best intentions, one is tempted to bargain for a more advantageous position, to make or demand concessions, to wheedle and to coax, to impose one's agenda and vocabulary.’
    • ‘We're meant to be talking about the phenomenon of plastic surgery and the potential risks it poses for patients, and instead I'm having my vital statistics wheedled out of me by a complete stranger.’
    • ‘He wheedles that he was in Japan when it happened.’
    • ‘Foreign managers also tell of other problems: differing objectives or partners wheedling to get associates into key posts.’
    • ‘During all of this editorial project - all the boasting, praising, cajoling, and wheedling, indulging in witty asides - I've been staring fixedly into a computer screen.’
    • ‘We do all the talking; we plead, wheedle, deny and cajole.’
    • ‘The film-makers were busy on the lot or on location, but our producers, like Jacob, stayed in the tents, free to wheedle, convince and extort position from and in the studio system.’
    • ‘He is at the same time bullying and wheedling, but will, when cornered, reiterate the anodyne phrases he picked up on the intensive salesman's course.’
    • ‘‘I'll give you one of these grown-up sweets if you keep walking,’ I wheedle, proffering a Tune.’
    • ‘Many of them command such skills as cajoling, wheedling, thundering, condescending, and even insulting - but, of course, insulting with style.’
    • ‘With the new cameras will come no mercy, no human face to wheedle, cajole, or insult.’
    • ‘For much of the film, Emily courts embarrassment with wheedling, flirtatious attempts to stop the girl's uptight uncle from taking her back to the States.’
    • ‘You view your employer more as an equal and you begin to think of ways that you can add value to your services instead of thinking of ways to wheedle more benefits from your feudal overlord.’
    • ‘Roses voice was soft and wheedling, her smile saccharin sweet.’
    • ‘He wheedled with a smile to show that he wasn't too serious.’
    • ‘But then, 10 minutes later, he's still needling and wheedling so convincingly you start to flip-flop back to the earlier assumption that, self-effusing pretence or not, Alan Davies hates having his picture taken.’
    • ‘The story probably continued with a bit more wheedling and pleading, but I wasn't really listening.’
    • ‘Of course, she had no idea if she could talk her manager into stopping at some of these towns, but she could beg and wheedle and cajole if she had to.’
    • ‘‘Lily really wants to get to know you better,’ Morgan wheedled.’
    • ‘A thousand bodies and they're already at the negotiating table with tails between their legs, probably wheedling and begging the resistance to pack it in.’
    coax, cajole, inveigle, lure, induce, blarney, entice, charm, tempt, beguile, flatter, persuade, influence, sway, win someone over, bring someone round, prod, talk, convince, make, get, press, prevail on, get round, argue, reason, urge, pressure, pressurize, bring pressure to bear on, coerce
    sweet-talk, soft-soap, twist someone's arm, smooth-talk, butter someone up
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Coax or persuade someone to do something.
      • ‘Because I don't have any and I'm ready to hit you and steal yours if I can't wheedle you into paying for me to come.’
      • ‘He eventually wheedled me into helping him after a week of whining.’
      • ‘What he wants in bed is humiliation, naturally, and when he finally wheedles Geli into dishing out the big abuse, we're shocked at ourselves for expecting nothing else and settling for nothing less.’
      • ‘Somewhere along the line she'd realized that she seemed to have a talent for wheedling them into doing what she most desired.’
      • ‘She cajoles and wheedles you into singing; she sings for you when you fail; and she cleverly adjusts the voice tracks to help you go on.’
      • ‘Michael had hung up the phone, with her shouts still ringing in his ears, but he couldn't help smiling, arrogantly pleased that he had managed to wheedle her into meeting him for brunch later.’
      • ‘II.3 has Iago left alone after Cassio's departure, after he has wheedled him into drinking a stoup of wine.’
      • ‘In the second act, Robert wheedles Christopher into charging Bruce with racism, which is utterly unfounded, in hopes of getting the younger man disbarred and fired.’
      • ‘If no one was coming to his assistance, did that mean they were giving her a chance to wheedle him into letting her show him her stuff?’
      • ‘Oh, well, honesty compels me to admit that I've been instructed to wheedle you into letting Adam come along.’
      • ‘Yeah, I got a recipe. It's call the boyfriend and try to wheedle him into bringing over some take-out Chinese.’
    2. 1.2[with object]Coax or persuade (someone) to say or give something.
      • ‘Then let the nuclear industry buy its insurance on the open market like the rest of us instead of wheedling it out of the government like a bunch of Soviet-era factory directors.’
      • ‘Politicians are so expert at wheedling their way out of an answer.’
      • ‘They were obviously concerned about the way I'd been acting and they would wheedle the truth out of me.’
      • ‘Evo shrugged, obviously not of the disposition to wheedle it out of me if I didn't want to tell him.’
      • ‘After priestly efforts to wheedle a confession out of him proved unavailing, he was strangled and his body burned.’
      • ‘In an attempt to wheedle personal revelations out of this guarded individual, the programme-makers confronted Brown with a hard-hitting interviewer.’
      • ‘The corner of his mouth turned down at this thought, but he knew there was no way to wheedle it out of Herman, who could be very stubborn at times like these.’
      • ‘I wheedled my way out of Eric's grasp, laughing when he tried to hold on.’
      • ‘He had managed to wheedle the address out of the class monitor, but she had given him a disgusted look for some reason.’
      • ‘This is another good reason to wheedle our way out of the marriage.’
      • ‘At the centre, built with US funds, where he wheedled a kiss out of a two-year-old girl named Valentina.’
      • ‘Hayley had wanted to see him off, but he'd managed to avoid giving her an exact answer, unless she'd managed to wheedle it out of his mother, which was a frightening thought.’
      • ‘He seems to be able to wheedle rides out of just about anybody.’
      • ‘A week before Derry played Cavan in the Ulster championship Eamonn Coleman called to Cassidy and wheedled a commitment out of him for the summer.’
      • ‘As one reader who did manage to wheedle an answer out of me on the subject concurred with my original notion that the not-knowing was preferable to the knowing, I shall refrain from adding to your store of knowledge.’
      • ‘She had tried to wheedle her mom out of making her go but it hadn't worked so far.’
      • ‘That means that some networks might be forced to strike a Faustian bargain: wheedle a fee increase out of operators now, but submit when the operator in turn demands to lock in that rate for several years.’
      • ‘Earlier this week, Andy Duncan, the chief executive, accused him of wheedling his way out of commitments to regulate the company's advertising rates’
      • ‘I'm just getting tired of people trying to wheedle your identity out of me.’
      • ‘And don't try to wheedle it out of me, or read my mind.’


Mid 17th century: perhaps from German wedeln cringe, fawn from Wedel tail, fan.