Definition of wile in English:



  • Devious or cunning stratagems employed in manipulating or persuading someone to do what one wants.

    • ‘Cassandra uses all of her wiles to manipulate Duncan.’
    • ‘They should also, he counsels, allow men to be ‘the ostensible head of households’ as an incentive to marry, while wielding a subtler power through their feminine wiles.’
    • ‘She's an adventurous lass who uses her feminine wiles quite effectively on unsuspecting men.’
    • ‘At the end of the night the beautiful maiden is trying to set up her handmaiden with a young burly blacksmith so she distracts the young guard with her feminine wiles and he is smitten.’
    • ‘Sometimes her attempt to handle tough situations on her own causes problems, as when she tries to imitate Julia's feminine wiles on a young male friend.’
    • ‘But, come on, you must remember how fascinating it was to be in close contact with an attractive male around about the time you discovered your feminine wiles?’
    • ‘Better the paternalism of Ayub than the devious wiles of the politicians.’
    • ‘Marcus emboldens himself to ask, and Sarah turns her professional wiles on him, suggesting he heard what he wanted to hear.’
    • ‘Despite the bitterly cold and windy night, the usual stalwarts came out to test their cognitive functions against the wiles of an entertaining master with extra musical memory questions thrown in for good measure.’
    • ‘By current standards, Eve is old-fashioned, her wiles and stratagems strictly based on aligning herself with men for their power rather than tapping into her own.’
    • ‘Because, among other things, I'm a girl who believes that women needn't define themselves by what society dictates to be appropriate behaviour, and yet I'll never miss an opportunity to exercise my feminine wiles.’
    • ‘‘I literally have had men suggest to me that achieving my level of success was due to feminine wiles,’ she says.’
    • ‘He used his wiles and his persuasion to the best of his ability… and the rest gave in.’
    • ‘But beneath the virtuous-widow facade she presented to the world was a cold, calculating, manipulative monster who used her feminine wiles to get what she wanted.’
    • ‘It had taken all her feminine wiles to seduce Pemberton, the butler, and then spike his drink with a sleeping pill.’
    • ‘I dance for lonely men, men who feel neglected, men who need the feigned affection and artful wiles of the dancer.’
    • ‘Chicagoans are going to succumb to the feminine wiles of that palsied succubus, so you should make sure children could not possibly be the result.’
    • ‘It is the Africans who are moving, shifting, thinking, plotting, and therefore digging their own entrenchment in this land upon which so many others have, through wiles and stratagems of their own, entrenched themselves here.’
    • ‘Women and their feminine wiles fascinated and frustrated him.’
    • ‘I can't hang with the girls who run to the bathroom to apply lipstick every five minutes, but I can appreciate those who flaunt their feminine wiles in other ways.’
    tricks, ruses, ploys, schemes, dodges, manoeuvres, gambits, subterfuges, cunning stratagems, artifices, devices, contrivances
    guile, artfulness, art, cunning, craftiness
    View synonyms


  • 1archaic Lure; entice.

    ‘she could be neither driven nor wiled into the parish kirk’
    • ‘Mike Upchat was not his real name, of course, and no one ever found out what this was; it was also not the only pseudonym he would employ in his schemes to wile his way into a woman's bed.’
    • ‘If I were trapped in repressive, anti-literate society in which books were banned, I think my best bet for memorisation ought to be Machiavelli's The Prince, the better to wile my way to the top.’
  • 2

    another way of saying omitted unresolving XREF to "while something away" (see while)
    • ‘He tempers this hobby by wiling away the days with his loser friends, and the nights catching lightning bugs.’
    • ‘Parked in his car outside his estranged wife's home, Keith would wile away the hours hoping to catch a glimpse of his ‘two little smashers’.’
    • ‘We wouldn't want anything glamorous, just basics such as a hot drinks dispenser during winter, a small TV to wile away the hours, comfy sofas, a small toilet and maybe a crèche for the little ones.’
    • ‘Paul, York Musical Theatre Company's artistic and musical director, will be joined by principal company members and friends from the theatre world to wile away a summer evening at this one-off event.’
    • ‘They are jailed mostly for non-violent crimes such as drug offenses or petty theft, and taxpayers are forced to spend extra millions to feed, house, and provide medical care for them while they wile away decades in prison.’
    • ‘Ben had wiled away the time watching other people and wondering what their reactions would be when Nakem's true intentions were revealed.’
    • ‘Known for disaffected characters who wile their lives away in seedy Bronx watering holes, Shanley's plays are populated with monologues and dialogues that have been mined for years by young acting students.’
    • ‘And although I wiled away many hours turning the opposition to toast and liberally covering them in butter, I still logged quite a few hours with the single-player game - playing through it a couple of times.’
    • ‘Everyone's going out and leaving me on my own tonight, and I have no idea whether I'll happily find something pleasant to wile away my time, or sink into complete and total depression.’
    • ‘Evelyn wiled away her days, performing odd tasks for Mrs. Watts, and practicing her needlepoint with her neighbor, Lindsey, as Lindsey's mother kept a close eye on her clumsy stitching.’


Middle English: perhaps from an Old Norse word related to vél craft.