Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
From Middle English wile, wyle, from Old English wīl (“wile, trick”) and wiġle (“divination”), from Proto-Germanic *wīlą (“craft, deceit”) (from Proto-Indo-European *wei- (“to turn, bend”)) and Proto-Germanic *wigulą, *wihulą (“prophecy”) (from Proto-Indo-European *weik- (“to consecrate, hallow, make holy”)). Cognate with Icelandic vél, væl (“artifice, craft, device, fraud, trick”).
wile (plural wiles)
- (usually in the plural) A trick or stratagem practiced for ensnaring or deception; a sly, insidious artifice
- He was seduced by her wiles.
- to frustrate all our plots and wiles
- To entice or lure
- Alternative spelling of while, "to pass the time".
- Here's a pleasant way to wile away the hours.
The phrase meaning to pass time idly is while away. We can trace the meaning in an adjectival sense for while back to Old English, hwīlen — passing, transitory. We also see it in the whilend — temporary, transitory. But since wile away happens so often, it is now included in many dictionaries. As can be seen above, wile is a noun—meaning (1) trickery, deception or (2) a disarming or seductive manner — and as a verb meaning to entice or lure. None of these meanings has anything to do with idly passing time, so wile away doesn’t make logical sense.
wile (using Raguileo Alphabet)
- Wixaleyiñ: Mapucezugun-wigkazugun pici hemvlcijka (Wixaleyiñ: Small Mapudungun-Spanish dictionary), Beretta, Marta; Cañumil, Dario; Cañumil, Tulio, 2008.
- English: wile