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

The truth is that in the history of chess, spanning more than a millennium, there hasn’t been a single human brilliancy, however wayward and unexpected, that a computer could not have located. Brad Leithauser, WSJ, "‘The Grandmaster’ Review: The 64-Square Universe," 8 Nov. 2018 Broward County Sheriff's Office firefighters collected the three wayward hatchlings in a bucket and returned them to the ocean. Fox News, "Firefighters rescue 3 baby sea turtles from storm drain," 28 July 2018 The Tottenham striker scored two emphatic penalties before inadvertently turning Ruben Loftus-Cheek's wayward effort into the back of the net - skyrocketing Kane to the top of the goalscoring charts at the World Cup. SI.com, "Harry Kane Coy Over Golden Boot Chances But Admits He's 'Buzzing' After World Cup Treble," 25 June 2018 That this bird elected to put down at Beaty Pond in a residential area in Davidson illustrates that rare, wayward birds can and do show up anywhere, anytime. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, "Another rarity shows up: A roseate spoonbill," 30 May 2018 Niang stole a march ahead on the defender who couldn’t meet the wayward ball as Wojciech Szczęsny came surging off his line to recover the situation. SI.com, "Poland 1-2 Senegal: Error-Ridden Poland Gift Senegal Opening Vi to Leave Group H Wide Open," 19 June 2018 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

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

15 Nov 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

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