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verb \wəl, (ə)l, əl, ˈwil\

Definition of will

past would play \wəd, (ə)d, ˈwu̇d\ present singular & plural will

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  desire, wish <call it what you will>

  3. verbal auxiliary
  4. 1 —used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal <no one would take the job> <if we will all do our best> <will you please stop that racket>

  5. 2 —used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition <will get angry over nothing> <will work one day and loaf the next>

  6. 3 —used to express futurity <tomorrow morning I will wake up in this first-class hotel suite — Tennessee Williams>

  7. 4 —used to express capability or sufficiency <the back seat will hold three passengers>

  8. 5 —used to express probability and often equivalent to the simple verb <that will be the babysitter>

  9. 6 a —used to express determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness <I have made up my mind to go and go I will> b —used to express inevitability <accidents will happen>

  10. 7 —used to express a command, exhortation, or injunction <you will do as I say, at once>

  11. intransitive verb
  12. :  to have a wish or desire <whether we will or no>

if you will
  1. :  if you wish to call it that <a kind of preoccupation, or obsession if you will — Louis Auchincloss>

Usage Discussion of will

From the reams of pronouncements written about the distinction between shall and will—dating back as far as the 17th century—it is clear that the rules laid down have never very accurately reflected actual usage. The nationalistic statements of 18th and 19th century British grammarians, who commonly cited the misuses of the Irish, the Scots, and occasionally the Americans, suggest that the traditional rules may have come closest to the usage of southern England. Some modern commentators believe that English usage is still the closest to the traditionally prescribed norms. Most modern commentators allow that will is more common in nearly all uses. The entries for shall and will in this dictionary show current usage.

Origin of will

Middle English (1st & 3d singular present indicative), from Old English wille (infinitive wyllan); akin to Old High German wili (3d singular present indicative) wills, Latin velle to wish, will

First Known Use: before 12th century



noun \ˈwil\

Simple Definition of will

  • law : a legal document in which a person states who should receive his or her possessions after he or she dies

  • : a strong desire or determination to do something

  • : a person's choice or desire in a particular situation

Full Definition of will

  1. 1 :  desire, wish: as a :  disposition, inclination <where there's a will there's a way> b :  appetite, passion c :  choice, determination

  2. 2 a :  something desired; especially :  a choice or determination of one having authority or power b (1) archaic :  request, command (2) [from the phrase our will is which introduces it] :  the part of a summons expressing a royal command

  3. 3 :  the act, process, or experience of willing :  volition

  4. 4 a :  mental powers manifested as wishing, choosing, desiring, or intending b :  a disposition to act according to principles or ends c :  the collective desire of a group <the will of the people>

  5. 5 :  the power of control over one's own actions or emotions <a man of iron will>

  6. 6 :  a legal declaration of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property or estate after death; especially :  a written instrument legally executed by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death

at will
  1. :  as one wishes :  as or when it pleases or suits oneself

Examples of will

  1. In her will, she asked that her money be donated to the church.

  2. He made a will only days before his death.

  3. He has no will of his own.

  4. a government that reflects the will of the people

Origin of will

Middle English, from Old English willa will, desire; akin to Old English wille

First Known Use: before 12th century



verb \ˈwil\

Definition of will

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to order or direct by a will <willed that her property be divided among her children> b :  to dispose of by or as if by a will :  bequeath <willed his entire estate to this wife>

  3. 2 a :  to determine by an act of choice b :  decree, ordain <Providence wills it> c :  intend, purpose d :  to cause or change by an act of will <believed he could will himself to succeed>; also :  to try to do so

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to exercise the will

  6. 2 :  choose <do as you will>

Before 12th Century

First Known Use of will

before 12th century

WILL Defined for Kids



helping verb \wəl, ˈwil\

Definition of will

past would \wəd, ˈwu̇d\ present singular and plural will

  1. 1 :  wish to <They will have milk.>

  2. 2 :  am, is, or are willing to <I will go if you ask me.>

  3. 3 :  am, is, or are determined to <We will go in spite of the storm.>

  4. 4 :  am, is, or are going to <Everyone will be there.>

  5. 5 :  is or are commanded to <You will obey.>

  6. 6 :  is or are able to <The car will hold six people.>

  7. 7 :  is or are likely or bound to <The truth will come out.>



noun \ˈwil\

Definition of will

  1. 1 :  a firm desire or determination <They have the will to win.>

  2. 2 :  the power to decide or control emotions or actions <He quit smoking through his own will.>

  3. 3 :  a particular person's decision or choice <It's the king's will that he be jailed.>

  4. 4 :  a legal paper in which a person states to whom his or her property is to be given after death



verb \ˈwil\

Definition of will


  1. 1 :  to intend or order <It will happen if God wills it.>

  2. 2 :  to bring to a certain condition by the power of the will <Jonas felt himself losing consciousness and with his whole being willed himself to stay upright … — Lois Lowry, The Giver>

  3. 3 :  to decide on by choice <Go where you will.>

  4. 4 :  to leave by will <They willed the house to me.>

Seen and Heard

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February 11, 2016

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