Origin uncertain. Perhaps continuing Middle English wedlen (“to beg, ask for alms”), from Old English wǣdlian (“to be poor, be needy, be in want, beg”), from Proto-Germanic *wēþlōną (“to be in need”).
More likely, borrowed from German wedeln (“to wag one's tail”), from Middle High German wedelen, a byform of Middle High German wadelen (“to wander, waver, wave, whip, stroke, flutter”), from Old High German wādalōn (“to wander, roam, rove”). In this case, it may be a doublet of waddle, or an independently formed etymological equivalent.
- (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈʍiː.dəl/ (without the wine-whine merger)
- (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈwiː.dəl/ (with the wine-whine merger)
Audio (US) (file)
- (transitive, intransitive) To cajole or attempt to persuade by flattery.
- 1951, Geoffrey Chaucer; Nevill Coghill, transl., “The Wife of Bath's Tale”, in The Canterbury Tales: Translated into Modern English (Penguin Classics), Penguin Books, published 1977, page 290:
- Though he had beaten me in every bone / He still could wheedle me to love.
- I’d like one of those, too, if you can wheedle him into telling you where he got it.
- (transitive) To obtain by flattery, guile, or trickery.
- 1700, [William] Congreve, The Way of the World, a Comedy. […], London: […] Jacob Tonson, […], OCLC 228728146, Act III, scene xviii, page 51:
- If the worſt come to the worſt,—I'll turn my Wife to Graſs—I already have a deed of Settlement of the beſt part of her Eſtate; which I wheadl'd out of her; [...]
wheedle (plural wheedles)