way·ward | \ ˈwā-wərd \

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

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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

And in a dark interior, any wayward speck shines like a disco ball. Blake Z. Rong, Popular Mechanics, "The 5 Spots in Your Car That Everyone Forgets to Clean," 11 May 2017 On Sunday, a few wayward hikers were spotted there and plenty more are expected Wednesday. Author: Kat Sorensen, Anchorage Daily News, "Mount Marathon race trail has it all: snow, lush vegetation, flowing water and lots of dust," 3 July 2018 Heredia put the Mariners ahead for good, racing home on a wayward fastball in the dirt that got past catcher Caleb Joseph. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Thanks to the schedule, Mariners seem back on track after 5-3 victory in Baltimore," 25 June 2018 The wayward peacock could be an escapee from some estate across Buffalo Bayou, in River Oaks. Molly Glentzer, Houston Chronicle, "The Houston Arboretum’s newest resident: An exotic peacock," 15 June 2018 When economic decisions must be made under the daily, disciplining grind of the marketplace, the prevalence of unexploited profitable opportunities and wayward decisions can be expected to diminish. Richard B. Mckenzie, WSJ, "People Aren’t Rational, and That’s Why We Need Free Trade," 15 June 2018 The Nigeria international struggled to make an impact against the Foxes and drew a lot of frustrations from the travelling Arsenal fans for his wayward passes and poor attempts on goal. SI.com, "Alex Iwobi Becomes the Target of Arsenal Fans' Frustrations as Gunners Fail to Win on the Road Again," 10 May 2018 In each episode, five empathetic and loving experts enter the life of some wayward soul and solve all their problems. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "9 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Binge to Escape Reality," 13 July 2018 Patients commonly experience bruising from wayward blood draws, and can rarely (less than 1 in 20,000) receive injuries to their arm nerves. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "A Robot May One Day Draw Your Blood," 13 July 2018

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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Statistics for wayward

Last Updated

23 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for wayward

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

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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 \

Kids Definition of wayward

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on wayward

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wayward

Spanish Central: Translation of wayward

Nglish: Translation of wayward for Spanish Speakers

Comments on wayward

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