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 Here's the latest rundown of which big banks in Asia, Europe and the U.S. have lost out from Bill Hwang's overly-leveraged and wayward trades. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "Google’s Alphabet to spend $50 billion on shares as the great buyback barrage takes off," 28 Apr. 2021 An exceptional Idris Elba shows how tough love works on a wayward teen in the beautiful and touching Netflix movie Concrete Cowboy. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Black Fathers Matter," 27 Apr. 2021 McIlroy even nailed his father on one wayward tee shot. BostonGlobe.com, "Xander Schauffele was dialed in, but disaster struck at No. 16, and other takeaways from the 85th Masters," 12 Apr. 2021 Rory McIlroy, the former top golfer in the world, accidentally struck his father with a wayward shot on Thursday. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Hideki Matsuyama becomes first Japanese winner of the Masters golf tournament," 11 Apr. 2021 Two wayward women go down the Mississippi by steamboat, looking for men to fleece. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: ‘Lust for Life’; ‘Platoon’ and more," 5 Mar. 2021 Garland rescinded the Sessions memo last week, signaling that the Biden administration will take a more intense approach to scrutinizing wayward police departments. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Can Merrick Garland Save the Minneapolis Police Department?," 21 Apr. 2021 Docking the pay of wayward lawmakers, curbing the legislative revolving door and new standing ethics committees highlight some of the proposals included in a slate of bipartisan bills unveiled Tuesday. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Bipartisan bills create new penalties for unethical lawmakers, curb revolving door," 20 Apr. 2021 The doc spends several wayward minutes taking us through the ceremony anyway, one of several erratic choices made by writer-director Christo Brock, who has more enthusiasm for his subjects than storytelling skill. Kyle Smith, National Review, "America’s Craft-Beer Revolution," 18 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for wayward

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wayward

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wayward.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wayward. Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wayward

Nglish: Translation of wayward for Spanish Speakers

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