Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

wayward

play
adjective way·ward \ˈwā-wərd\

Simple Definition of wayward

  • : tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable

  • : not going or moving in the intended direction

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wayward

  1. 1 :  following one's own capricious, wanton, or depraved inclinations :  ungovernable <a wayward child>

  2. 2 :  following no clear principle or law :  unpredictable

  3. 3 :  opposite to what is desired or expected :  untoward <wayward fate>

waywardly

adverb

waywardness

noun

Examples of wayward in a sentence

  1. parents of a wayward teenager

  2. <had always been the most wayward of their three children>



Origin and Etymology 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>.

WAYWARD Defined for Kids

wayward

play
adjective way·ward \ˈwā-wərd\

Definition of wayward for Students

  1. 1 :  disobedient

  2. 2 :  not following a rule or regular course of action <A wayward throw broke the window.>





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up wayward? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

dog-eating-apple

Which is a synonym of asperse?

defame beat divulge placate
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ