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wise guy

Informal. a cocksure, conceited, and often insolent person; smart aleck:
He has a reputation for being a wise guy.
Also called wiseacre.
Origin of wise guy
1895-1900, Americanism
Related forms
wise-guy, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for wise guy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Afterward an ancient box wagon came rattling up, drawn by two champing cayuses, guided by Pake, the "wise guy" of the bush.

    Two on the Trail Hulbert Footner
  • But the sergeant—say, my Pa knows him well—he's the wise guy.

  • But there always is—and I suppose always will be—the wise guy who thinks he can get away with anything.

    Double Challenge James Arthur Kjelgaard
  • Sometimes you hear a wise guy say: No, no thats contrary to human nature.

    Friar Tuck Robert Alexander Wason
  • Maybe Jig Hollins, wise guy and big mouth, boosted their own selves quite a bit, by contrast.

    The Planet Strappers Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • "Of course he'll eat this red-headed gink," went on the first wise guy.

    The Adventures of Sally P. G. Wodehouse
  • Opportunity is something a Fool waits for while the wise guy runs down the road to meet it.

  • The connection from where he was calling to earth, the wise guy said!

    Direct Wire Clee Garson
  • He was a wise guy in the sense that he could be disrespectful in a way that you would accept.

    Warren Commission (8 of 26): Hearings Vol. VIII (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
British Dictionary definitions for wise guy

wise guy

(informal) a person who is given to making conceited, sardonic, or insolent comments
(US) a member of the Mafia
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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Slang definitions & phrases for wise guy



  1. : Send me a wire if you get the job
  2. : They checked to see whether she was wearing a wire
  3. An overstimulated person; an anxious, excitable person: You know I'm a natural wire. What I need is a drink to calm me down


  1. To send a telegram: Wire me when you get there (1859+)
  2. To place eavesdropping devices in a room, office, etc, or concealed on someone's body; bug: She quietly checked to see if her bedroom was wired/ The FBI wired me before they sent me to see the suspect (1950s+)

Related Terms

come up to the wire, down to the wire, go to the wire, haywire, hot-wire

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with wise guy

wise guy

An obnoxious know-it-all, a person who makes sarcastic or annoying remarks, as in the teacher was delighted that the worst wise guy in the class was moving out of town. [ ; second half of 1800s ]
Also see: smart aleck
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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