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 Except that, 10 years into Viserys' reign (the time in which the series kicks off in earnest), his only surviving child is his teenage daughter, Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), so he's stuck with his wayward, cruel brother Daemon (Matt Smith) as his heir. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 22 Aug. 2022 It’s a challenging, yet fair and well-designed layout that takes advantage of the natural beauty of the Ozarks without punishing slightly wayward shots. Mike And Wendy Pramik, cleveland, 7 July 2022 Each year, hundreds of people try out for a spot on the U.S. Open Ball Crew, those speedy attendants who run around the court and retrieve wayward tennis balls during the U.S. Open without interrupting a match. Luis Velarde, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2022 In turn, Wallen, 29, made light of his wayward ways in his acceptance remarks, which included his gratitude to God. Nancy Kruh, Peoplemag, 26 Aug. 2022 By contrast, a charming early 15th-century ink painting by Sekkyakushi suggests a gentler approach: A boy astride a water buffalo appears to be steering a beast that is as wayward as the mind—not by yanking on the reins, but with a gentle prod. Lee Lawrence, WSJ, 11 May 2022 Lance, who completed 1 of his final 9 passes, had two incompletions that were possible drops: Aiyuk and wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud had passes hit their hands, but both passes were a bit wayward. Eric Branch, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Aug. 2022 Like Rohmer’s Rivière, Antoinette is both brazen and courageous but — significantly — without the cringe factor that made Shiva Baby a recognizable yet unpalatable portrait of modern wayward young women. Armond White, National Review, 27 July 2022 Then, a wayward moment off the tee left him with double bogey on the second hole to drop to 1 under. Adam Smith, USA TODAY, 7 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

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

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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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Last Updated

14 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wayward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wayward. Accessed 1 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for wayward


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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