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


adjective will·ful \ˈwil-fəl\

Simple Definition of willful

  • : refusing to change your ideas or opinions or to stop doing something

  • : done deliberately

Full Definition of willful

  1. 1 :  obstinately and often perversely self-willed <a stubborn and willful child>

  2. 2 :  done deliberately :  intentional <willful disobedience>

will·ful·ly play \-fə-lē\ adverb
will·ful·ness noun

Examples of willful

  1. a stubborn and willful child

  2. He has shown a willful disregard for other people's feelings.

13th Century

First Known Use of willful

13th century

Variants of willful

or wil·ful play \ˈwil-fəl\

Synonym Discussion of willful

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control. unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior <unruly children>. ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others <ungovernable rage>. intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control <intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump>. refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold <special schools for refractory children>. recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority <acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace>. willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way <a willful disregard for the rights of others>. headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion <a headstrong young cavalry officer>.

Rhymes with willful

Seen and Heard

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


February 12, 2016

of, relating to, or suggestive of marble

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

16.96 pounds 2.2 pounds 100 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

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


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