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[wahyl] /waɪl/
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, wiling.
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
late Old English
1125-75; (noun) Middle English; late Old English wil, perhaps < Old Norse vēl artifice, earlier *wihl-
Related forms
outwile, verb (used with object), outwiled, outwiling.
Can be confused
while, wile.
1, 2. deception, contrivance, maneuver. See trick. 3. chicanery, fraud. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wiled away
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It was a new and darling enterprise with him, and his mind and speech could not long be wiled away from the subject.

    The Moonshiners At Hoho-Hebee Falls Charles Egbert Craddock (AKA Mary Noailles Murfree)
  • The great Bunce was not to be wiled away, and was upheld in his orthodoxy by two adherents.

    The Warden Anthony Trollope
  • It was hot even there, but we wiled away an hour or so of rest in most satisfactory fashion.

    A Flight in Spring J. Harris Knowles
  • A stroll round the grounds, and a visit to the stud farm afterwards, wiled away the time until the dressing gong sounded.

    A Cabinet Secret Guy Boothby
  • We were snug enough in our well-lit coach, where before and after dinner the hours were wiled away with games of cards.

    The Amazing Argentine John Foster Fraser
  • I am but a very child, to be watched over and amused, to be wiled away from danger with a sweetmeat or a toy!

    Margaret Tudor Annie T. Colcock
  • Margaret, a king's daughter, is wiled away by a splendid description of Stolz Syburg's opulence.

  • No very pleasant people on board; so I read, took notes, and wiled away the long days as I best could.

    Louisa May Alcott Louisa May Alcott
  • It was a pleasant day dream that wiled away the tedium of the ride home.

    Gargoyles Ben Hecht
British Dictionary definitions for wiled away


trickery, cunning, or craftiness
(usually pl) an artful or seductive trick or ploy
(transitive) to lure, beguile, or entice
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for wiled away



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
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