1 [wahyz]
adjective, wiser, wisest.
having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.
characterized by or showing such power; judicious or prudent: a wise decision.
possessed of or characterized by scholarly knowledge or learning; learned; erudite: wise in the law.
having knowledge or information as to facts, circumstances, etc.: We are wiser for their explanations.
Slang. informed; in the know: You're wise, so why not give us the low-down?
Archaic. having knowledge of magic or witchcraft.
verb (used with object), wised, wising.
Slang. to make wise or aware: I'll wise you, kid.
Verb phrases
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.
be/get wise to, Slang. to be or become cognizant of or no longer deceived by; catch on: to get wise to a fraud.
get wise, Slang.
to become informed.
to be or become presumptuous or impertinent: Don't get wise with me, young man!
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.

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

wisely, adverb

1, 2. sage, sensible, sagacious, intelligent.

1, 2. foolish.
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2 [wahyz]
way of proceeding or considering; manner; fashion (usually used in combination or in certain phrases): otherwise; in any wise; in no 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


3 [wahyz]
verb (used with object), wised, wising.
Chiefly Scot.
to instruct.
to induce or advise.
to show the way to; guide.
Scot. to direct the course of; cause to turn.

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


Isaac Mayer [mahy-er] , 1819–1900, U.S. rabbi and educator, born in Bohemia: founder of Reform Judaism in the U.S.
Stephen Samuel, 1874–1949, U.S. rabbi, theologian, and Zionist leader; born in Hungary.


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

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.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wise1 (waɪz)
adj (often foll by to)
1.  possessing, showing, or prompted by wisdom or discernment
2.  prudent; sensible
3.  shrewd; crafty: a wise plan
4.  well-informed; erudite
5.  aware, informed, or knowing (esp in the phrase none the wiser)
6.  slang in the know, esp possessing inside information (about)
7.  archaic possessing powers of magic
8.  slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) cocksure or insolent
9.  informal (often foll by to) be wise, get wise to be or become aware or informed (of something) or to face up (to facts)
10.  slang (often foll by to) put wise to inform or warn (of)
11.  See wise up
[Old English wīs; related to Old Norse vīss, Gothic weis, German weise]

wise2 (waɪz)
archaic way, manner, fashion, or respect (esp in the phrases any wise, in no 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 manner: clockwise; likewise
2.  with reference to: profitwise; businesswise
[Old English -wisan; see wise²]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

O.E. wis, from P.Gmc. *wisaz (cf. O.S., O.Fris. wis, O.N. viss, Du. wijs, Ger. weise "wise"), from pp. adj. *wittos of PIE base *woid-/*weid-/*wid- "to see," hence "to know" (see vision). Slang meaning "aware, cunning" first attested 1896. Related to the source of O.E. 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, Amer.Eng.; wisecrack is from 1924. Wisenheimer, with mock Ger. or Yiddish surname suffix, first recorded 1904.

"way of proceeding, manner," O.E. wise, ultimately from the same source as wise (adj.). Cf. O.S. wisa, O.Fris. wis, Dan. vis, M.Du. wise, Du. wijs, O.H.G. wisa, Ger. Weise "way, manner." Most common in Eng. now as a suffix. For sense evolution from "to see" to "way of proceeding,"
cf. cognate Gk. eidos "form, shape, kind," also "course of action." Ground sense is "to see/know the way."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with wise, 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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
All the wise heads agree.
They want tourism to encourage wise stewardship, not enrich distant
The heart of the wise man is tranquil.
He has made a wise choice in light of his doctors' recommendations.
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