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 Two minutes later Sanchez tapped in Sensi’s wayward effort. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Sanchez scores but is sent off in Inter’s 3-1 win at Samp," 28 Sep. 2019 Many a wayward traveler has been forced into a similar situation. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "The Yankees had major travel troubles on way to KC for series with Royals | The Kansas City Star," 18 May 2018 An extremely elderly Mrs Claus, looking for her wayward husband! Emily Dixon, Marie Claire, "John Legend Posted the Cutest Photo of a Trip to the Beach with Luna and Miles," 30 Dec. 2019 And there are few better ways to usher in 2020 than to turn your eyes skyward to witness the fiery debris of a wayward comet. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "How to Catch the Quadrantids, the First Major Meteor Shower of the 2020s," 30 Dec. 2019 Aside from watching little tykes get tossed — the longest ride was 15 yards — there’s no better entertainment than seeing a pair of shepherds go sideline to sideline while herding wayward sheep. Matt Schubert, The Denver Post, "Broncos up-down drill: Best and worst performances against the Raiders," 29 Dec. 2019 Bridge disabled by lawnmower In June, the Center Street swing bridge over the Cuyahoga River in the Flats was knocked out of commission by a wayward lawn tractor operated by a city worker. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Wacky, wonky, embarrassments and developments led readers’ most-read stories from Cleveland City Hall," 26 Dec. 2019 Similarly, Mount Everest figures prominently in Abominable, the tale of a wayward yeti from director Jill Culton, 51. Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter, ""It's All Imagination Coming to Life": Jennifer Lee, Josh Cooley and the Animation Roundtable," 16 Dec. 2019 The Hammers were wayward for large parts of the game, but also managed to show their quality with some magical moments. SI.com, "Brighton 1-1 West Ham: Report, Ratings & Reaction as VAR Rules the Roost Once Again," 17 Aug. 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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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

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wayward.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waywardness. Accessed 28 January 2020.

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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

What made you want to look up wayward? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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