Beguile

“Unfortunately for Eve, the serpent was easily able to beguile her.”

What is the best definition of beguile?

Check your answer!

Choice A - To embolden or give confidence to someone
Choice B - To persuade through coercion or bribery
Choice C - To charm in order to mislead
Choice D - To make someone feel guilty

Definition:

Beguile (verb) – to deceive or mislead; to charm or engage someone, often in order to mislead or deceive; or, to create a pleasing diversion to help pass the time

GRE pro tips:

Beguile is a complicated word! In its original usage, beguile meant to use guile – cunning, cleverness, and trickery – to mislead others. And today, it can still be used to suggest such deceitful manipulation. For example, the enemy may beguile a troop into an ambush situation. But, beguile can also mean to mislead in a general (even unintentional) way. For example, things like first impressions can be beguiling, if they lead us to the wrong conclusions.

In addition, beguile has evolved into another common meaning: to charm or entice someone. For instance, a singer’s voice can beguile, or enchant, the audience; or, a town’s quaint architecture may be quite beguiling. But, oftentimes, this “charming” version of beguile still suggests that the charming or enticing is done in order to mislead or deceive. You could, for instance, use charm or flattery to beguile someone into doing your school work, fixing your car, or, perhaps, believing your lies.

Lastly, and less commonly, beguile can mean to cheer or pass the time with a diversion. For instance, writing letters to a loved one may help to beguile the tedium of a long and lonely journey.

Example sentences:

“The public was beguiled into supporting an unnecessary war by the incessant fabrication and exaggeration of threats posed by another country.”

“The audience was beguiled by the singer’s angelic voice.”

“Thomas could charm anyone into following along with his schemes; he was really quite a beguiler.”

“When my grandfather was in the war, my grandmother beguiled her long lonely nights by writing him letters, which she later published as part of her memoirs.”