Learn English – Difference between *guile* and *beguile*


According to the dictionary, guile as a noun means cunning or deceit, while as a tr.verb it means to deceive.
Beguile, doesn't seem to have a noun form, and as a tr.verb means to deceive or to be cunning. Is the difference simply that of a noun/verb?

Can guile be used as a verb? If I am sightseeing and a tout charges me too much, was I guiled? Or was I beguiled? (or neither?)(or both?)

Both seem to mean to deceive. Can anyone offer some clarification on the differences between the two? Are the interchangable?

Best Answer

The verb form of guile is rarely used nowadays. The noun form is still in popular use, but has shed most of its negative connotations of dishonesty, and has grown to imply the more positive attributes of "artful deception or cunning". The OED doesn't even bother to list the now rare verb form and prefers the noun:

he used all his guile and guts to free himself from the muddle he was in

The word beguile, on the other hand, is still used to convey trickery and deception. But, over time, its use has also been softened to carry an air of enchantment and allure. The OED's entry for beguile goes thusly:

charm or enchant (someone), often in a deceptive way:

he beguiled the voters with his good looks

trick (someone) into doing something:

they were beguiled into signing a peace treaty

So, it appears that the OP was beguiled into buying those trinkets ...

P.S. It's interesting to see how the use of the phrase 'beguiling smile' has increased over time.