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See also: -wise, Wise, and WISE


 wise on Wikipedia


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wis, wys, from Old English wīs (wise), from Proto-Germanic *wīsaz (wise), from Proto-Indo-European *weydstos, *weydtos, a participle form of *weyd-.

Cognate with Dutch wijs, German weise, Norwegian and Swedish vis. Compare wit.


wise (comparative wiser or more wise, superlative wisest or most wise)

  1. Showing good judgement or the benefit of experience.
    Storing extra food for the winter was a wise decision.
    They were considered the wise old men of the administration.
    "It is a profitable thing, if one is wise, to seem foolish" - Aeschylus
  2. (colloquial, ironic, sarcastic) Disrespectful.
    Don't get wise with me!
  3. (colloquial) Aware, informed.
    Be careful: the boss is wise to your plan to call out sick.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Even though wise is an antonym of foolish, it does not mean smart or intelligent, which is also an antonym of foolish.
Derived terms[edit]
Terms derived from wise (adjective)
  • wise person
  • wise decision
  • wise advice
  • wise counsel
  • wise saying
  • wise adage
  • wise proverb


wise (third-person singular simple present wises, present participle wising, simple past and past participle wised)

  1. To become wise.
  2. (ergative, slang) Usually with "up", to inform or learn.
    Mo wised him up about his situation.
    After Mo had a word with him, he wised up.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English wīse, from Proto-Germanic *wīsō. Cognate with Dutch wijze, German Weise, Norwegian vis, Swedish visa, vis, Italian guisa, Spanish guisa. Compare -wise.


wise (plural wises)

  1. (archaic) Way, manner, or method.
    • 1481, William Caxton, The History Reynard the Fox[1]:
      In such wise that all the beasts, great and small, came to the court save Reynard the Fox.
    • 1850, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Burden of Nineveh, lines 2-5:
      ... the prize
      Dead Greece vouchsafes to living eyes, —
      Her Art for ever in fresh wise
      From hour to hour rejoicing me.
    • 1866, Algernon Swinburne, A Ballad of Life, lines 28-30:
      A riven hood was pulled across his eyes;
      The token of him being upon this wise
      Made for a sign of Lust.
    • 1926, J. S. Fletcher, Sea Fog, page 308:
      And within a few minutes the rest of us were on our way too, judiciously instructed by Parkapple and the Brighton official, and disposed of in two taxi-cabs, the drivers of which were ordered to convey us to Rottingdean in such wise that each set his load of humanity at different parts of the village and at the same time that the bus was due to arrive at the hotel.
    • 1927, M[ohandas] K[aramchand] Gandhi, chapter XVIII, in Mahadev Desai, transl., The Story of My Experiments with Truth: Translated from the Original in Gujarati, volume I, Ahmedabad, Gujarat: Navajivan Press, →OCLC:
      Meantime a serious question came up for discussion. [] The discussion arose somewhat in this wise. The President of the Society was Mr. Hills, proprietor of the Thames Iron Works. He was a puritan. []
    • 1964, Marshall McLuhan, chapter 6, in Understanding Media, second edition:
      Then, at least, we shall be able to program consciousness in such wise that it cannot be numbed nor distracted by the Narcissus illusions of the entertainment world that beset mankind when he encounters himself extended in his own gimmickry.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English wisen (to advise, direct), from Old English wisian (to show the way, guide, direct), from Proto-West Germanic *wīsijan, from Proto-Germanic *wīsaną, *wīsijaną (to show the way, dispense knowledge), from Proto-Indo-European *weyd- (to know).

Cognate with Dutch wijzen (to indicate, point out), German weisen (to show, indicate), Danish and Norwegian Bokmål vise (to show), Norwegian Nynorsk visa (to show).


wise (third-person singular simple present wises, present participle wising, simple past and past participle wised)

  1. (dialectal) To instruct.
  2. (dialectal) To advise; induce.
  3. (dialectal) To show the way, guide.
  4. (dialectal) To direct the course of, pilot.
  5. (dialectal) To cause to turn.

Middle Dutch[edit]



  1. Contraction of wi se.

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of vice

Old English[edit]


From Proto-Germanic *wīsō, *wīsaz. Cognate with Dutch wijze, German Weise, Swedish vis, Italian guisa, Spanish guisa.


  • IPA(key): /ˈwiː.se/, [ˈwiː.ze]


wīse f

  1. way (manner)
    Ne līcaþ mē sēo wīse þe hēo mē on lōcaþ.
    I don't like the way she looks at me.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The phrase “in ___ way” is used with the accusative case: Þū myndgast mē on maniġe wīsan mīnes lārēowes (“You remind me in many ways of my teacher”).


See also[edit]