willful

adjective

will·​ful ˈwil-fəl How to pronounce willful (audio)
variants or wilful
1
: obstinately and often perversely self-willed
a stubborn and willful child
2
: done deliberately : intentional
willful disobedience
willfully adverb
willfulness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for willful

unruly, ungovernable, intractable, refractory, recalcitrant, willful, headstrong mean not submissive to government or control.

unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior.

unruly children

ungovernable implies either an escape from control or guidance or a state of being unsubdued and incapable of controlling oneself or being controlled by others.

ungovernable rage

intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control.

intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump

refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold.

special schools for refractory children

recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority.

acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace

willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way.

a willful disregard for the rights of others

headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion.

a headstrong young cavalry officer

Example Sentences

a stubborn and willful child He has shown a willful disregard for other people's feelings.
Recent Examples on the Web The wrongful death lawsuit claims gross negligence, assault and battery and wanton and willful misconduct and states the officers were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Kc Baker, Peoplemag, 3 Nov. 2022 The lawsuit alleges gross negligence; assault, battery, wanton and willful misconduct; violation of the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act; and a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Andrea May Sahouri, USA TODAY, 3 Nov. 2022 The lawsuit alleges: gross negligence; assault, battery, wanton and willful misconduct; violation of the Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act; and a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Andrea May Sahouri, Detroit Free Press, 1 Nov. 2022 The complaint, filed by Fieger on behalf of Burks’ mother Quieauna Wilson, who represents her son’s estate, accuses five unknown Detroit police officers of gross negligence, assault and battery and wanton and willful misconduct. Michelle Watson, CNN, 1 Nov. 2022 Smith — who has served in her position since 1998 and has been with the sheriff’s office since 1973 — was accused by a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury of corruption and willful misconduct in December 2021. Joel Umanzor, San Francisco Chronicle, 31 Oct. 2022 Underneath the layers, there is probably a willful ignorance and a willfulness for her son, the actual Targaryen heir, to be on the throne. Jordan Moreau, Variety, 24 Oct. 2022 Hill’s defense team argued that U.S. Justice Department officials never proved Hill displayed willful disregard to break the law. Jillian Price, ajc, 21 Oct. 2022 It’s all there, one story of — again at best — willful ignorance after another. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'willful.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of willful was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near willful

Cite this Entry

“Willful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willful. Accessed 2 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

willful

adjective

will·​ful
variants or wilful
1
: stubbornly determined to have one's own way
a willful child
2
: done deliberately : intentional
willful obedience
willfully adverb
willfulness noun

Legal Definition

willful

adjective

will·​ful
variants or wilful
: not accidental : done deliberately or knowingly and often in conscious violation or disregard of the law, duty, or the rights of others
willful injury
willfully adverb
willfulness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on willful

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