wayward

adjective way·ward \ ˈwā-wərd \
Updated on: 1 Dec 2017

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

waywardly

adverb

waywardness

noun

Examples of wayward in a Sentence

  1. parents of a wayward teenager

  2. had always been the most wayward of their three children

Recent Examples of wayward from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of wayward

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

WAYWARD Defined for English Language Learners

wayward

adjective

Definition of wayward for English Language Learners

  • : tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable

  • : not going or moving in the intended direction


WAYWARD Defined for Kids

wayward

adjective way·ward \ ˈwā-wərd \

Definition of wayward for Students

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


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