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

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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 Side Note Andre Wesson left the game late in the second half after absorbing a wayward elbow from teammate C.J. Walker and did not return. Stephen Means, cleveland, "Ohio State basketball overcomes rough first half to knock off Cincinnati 64-56 in season opener," 7 Nov. 2019 Just after the hour mark, Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta snuck in at the far post to get the faintest of touches onto Tammy Abraham's wayward shot and spark hope of a revival. Matias Grez, CNN, "Chelsea and Ajax serve up eight-goal Champions League thriller," 5 Nov. 2019 The two biggest issues, according to Malone, have been his team’s inability to finish inside and their wayward 3-point shooting. Mike Singer, The Denver Post, "The Nuggets are 4-2, but their offense has been underwhelming. Here’s the problem.," 5 Nov. 2019 If the regulator puts the private-sector bank into its correctional facility for wayward lenders, there will be limits on risk-taking. Andy Mukherjee | Bloomberg, Washington Post, "Yes, Cut the Loose Talk and Close This Rescue," 4 Nov. 2019 Despite the subsequent disavowals, the Tulagi scheme was not the misguided initiative of a wayward provincial premier. The Economist, "A Chinese firm may or may not be leasing one of the Solomon Islands," 24 Oct. 2019 The keen eye of a police officer in Nevada helped rescue a wayward version of Old Glory from the shoulder of a busy Las Vegas-area highway. Fox News, "Nevada police officer saves American flag from side of Las Vegas highway," 11 Oct. 2019 The wayward humpback whale spotted swimming in London’s River Thames has died. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Whale Spotted Swimming In London's River Thames Dies, Evidence Shows Animal Was Hit by a Ship," 9 Oct. 2019 So, the Blades got the break with their cleansheet intact, partly thanks to some wayward finishing from the Reds... SI.com, "Twitter Reacts as Liverpool are Pushed to Their Limits By Spirited Sheffield United Side," 28 Sep. 2019

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 2019

Time Traveler for wayward

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

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More Definitions for wayward


How to pronounce wayward (audio)

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.

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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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