adjective way·ward \ˈwā-wərd\

: tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable

: not going or moving in the intended direction

Full Definition of WAYWARD

:  following one's own capricious, wanton, or depraved inclinations :  ungovernable <a wayward child>
:  following no clear principle or law :  unpredictable
:  opposite to what is desired or expected :  untoward <wayward fate>
way·ward·ly adverb
way·ward·ness noun

Examples of WAYWARD

  1. parents of a wayward teenager
  2. <had always been the most wayward of their three children>

Origin of WAYWARD

Middle English, short for awayward turned away, from away, adverb + -ward
First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of WAYWARD

contrary, perverse, restive, balky, wayward mean inclined to resist authority or control. contrary implies a temperamental unwillingness to accept orders or advice <a contrary child>. perverse may imply wrongheaded, determined, or cranky opposition to what is reasonable or normal <a perverse, intractable critic>. restive suggests unwillingness or inability to submit to discipline or follow orders <tired soldiers growing restive>. balky suggests a refusing to proceed in a desired direction or course of action <a balky witness>. wayward suggests strong-willed capriciousness and irregularity in behavior <a school for wayward youths>.
WAYWARDLY Defined for Kids


adjective way·ward \ˈwā-wərd\

Definition of WAYWARD for Kids

:  not following a rule or regular course of action <A wayward throw broke the window.>


Next Word in the Dictionary: wayward childPrevious Word in the Dictionary: way trainAll Words Near: wayward
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears