will·​ful | \ ˈwil-fəl How to pronounce willful (audio) \
variants: or wilful

Definition of willful

1 : obstinately and often perversely self-willed a stubborn and willful child
2 : done deliberately : intentional willful disobedience

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Other Words from willful

willfully \ ˈwil-​fə-​lē How to pronounce willfully (audio) \ 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

Examples of willful in a Sentence

a stubborn and willful child He has shown a willful disregard for other people's feelings.
Recent Examples on the Web The drama certainly isn’t devoid of psychology—the logic of behavior is clear and consistent, and the action doesn’t come off as willful symbolism. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Revisiting the Violence and Style of Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull”," 21 May 2020 She was charged with littering, failure to comply and willful disregard of safety on streets. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, "Woman leads officers on a chase after making a mess: North Ridgeville police," 15 May 2020 He was arrested and charged with torture and willful abuse of a child. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "Lee County man charged with abuse of 1-month-old daughter," 14 May 2020 Appears willful—but even then, the audience understands that Mummy isn’t really talking. Jason Kehe, Wired, "What Great Zombie Movies Say About This ‘Zombie’ ‘Apocalypse’," 29 Apr. 2020 The lawsuit seeks restitution against Valley Delivery, injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits and penalties of up to $10,000 for each willful violation of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, the Attorney General's Office said. Jamie Landers, azcentral, "AG: Company used fake delivery slips to get personal info that was then sold to telemarketers," 3 Mar. 2020 Mumuni’s violent attack against Agent Coughlin was indisputably a premeditated, willful, and deliberate attempt to murder a federal officer in the name of ISIS. NBC News, "U.S. appeals court judge calls 17-year sentence in terrorism case 'shockingly low'," 27 Dec. 2019 And Saul co-creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have turned willful detours into unexpected delights. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Better Call Saul vs. Breaking Bad: We decide which is better," 15 Apr. 2020 What wounds Angela is not just the lack of conversation, but her father’s willful impenetrability. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Netflix’s ‘Tigertail’ is an affecting look at a family’s unspoken stories," 10 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of willful

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for willful

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for willful

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Willful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willful. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for willful


How to pronounce willful (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of willful

: refusing to change your ideas or opinions or to stop doing something
: done deliberately


variants: or wilful \ ˈwil-​fəl \

Kids Definition of willful

1 : stubborn sense 1 willful children
2 : intentional willful disobedience

Other Words from willful

willfully \ -​fə-​lē \ adverb
willfulness noun


variants: or wilful \ ˈwil-​fəl How to pronounce wilful (audio) \

Legal Definition of willful

: not accidental : done deliberately or knowingly and often in conscious violation or disregard of the law, duty, or the rights of others willful injury

Other Words from willful

willfully adverb
willfulness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on willful

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for willful

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with willful

Spanish Central: Translation of willful

Nglish: Translation of willful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of willful for Arabic Speakers

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