Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • 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

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>

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>.


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

February 7, 2016

a slight offense

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift duvet pince-nez kittly-benders
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ