way·​ward | \ ˈwā-wərd How to pronounce wayward (audio) \

Definition of wayward

1 : following one's own capricious, wanton, or depraved inclinations : ungovernable a wayward child
2 : following no clear principle or law : unpredictable
3 : opposite to what is desired or expected : untoward wayward fate

Other Words from wayward

waywardly adverb
waywardness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of wayward in a Sentence

parents of a wayward teenager had always been the most wayward of their three children
Recent Examples on the Web For Hollywood, wayward comets and asteroids are plot devices, but astronomers and physicists take the threat very seriously. Dan Falk, Smithsonian Magazine, 13 Dec. 2021 But the vastly larger People’s Republic of China claims that the island is a wayward province with which it will be reunited – by force if necessary. Patrick Frater, Variety, 15 Nov. 2021 He was plagued by ailments, money troubles, wayward offspring and slights to his pride. Washington Post, 19 Aug. 2021 Violence sometimes breaks into the film’s story, too—as evidence of wayward grief. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 24 Dec. 2021 Although officials were unable to find any wayward primates, the story went viral and even inspired a special subscription offer to The Enquirer and Cincinnati.com. The Enquirer, 22 Dec. 2021 The title suggests the female condition: a wayward woman trying to understand her life’s path as radical feminists see it. Armond White, National Review, 17 Dec. 2021 Rather than eliminate carbon emissions, CCUS projects capture wayward CO2 to be used or otherwise stored somewhere less damaging than in the atmosphere, such as an underground cavity. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 12 Dec. 2021 Though penguins are not native to Alaska, a few wayward travelers have made their way north. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wayward.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wayward

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wayward

Middle English, short for awayward turned away, from away, adverb + -ward

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Time Traveler for wayward

Time Traveler

The first known use of wayward was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near wayward

way train


wayward child

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Statistics for wayward

Last Updated

5 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wayward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wayward. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for wayward



English Language Learners Definition of wayward

: tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable
: not going or moving in the intended direction


way·​ward | \ ˈwā-wərd How to pronounce wayward (audio) \

Kids Definition of wayward

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

More from Merriam-Webster on wayward

Nglish: Translation of wayward for Spanish Speakers


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