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

Other Words from willful

willfully \ ˈwil-​fə-​lē How to pronounce willful (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 She was charged with drunk driving, operating without a license, willful disregard of safety and resisting an officer. Cheryl Higley, cleveland, 17 July 2022 His tweet over the weekend ordering gas stations to lower prices betrayed a willful ignorance about the private economy. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 4 July 2022 Nine people were indicted in 2021, including Snyder, who faced two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. Detroit Free Press, 2 July 2022 Snyder was charged with two misdemeanor counts of willful neglect of duty. CBS News, 28 June 2022 Lyon, former director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with nine felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and one misdemeanor count of willful neglect of duty. Arpan Lobo, USA TODAY, 28 June 2022 Miller, who Alsobrooks (D) appointed as chair in January 2021, was recently issued a notice of charges of misconduct in office, willful neglect of duty and incompetence by the state board. Nicole Asbury, Washington Post, 3 June 2022 The behavior of the powerful men around Antigone and Iphigenia shows how only a rare few are able to summon courage, and dramatizes how, instead, the drive to maintain power takes the form of cowardice and willful blindness. Rachel Hadas, The Conversation, 8 July 2022 According to the latest defense motion, Mosby’s prosecutors argued that their boss’s comments last month on the radio were not willful or directly related to the case. Alex Mann, Baltimore Sun, 7 July 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.

First Known Use of willful

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for willful

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

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Dictionary Entries Near willful



Willgerodt-Kindler reaction

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Willful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willful. Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for willful


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 willful (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

More from Merriam-Webster on willful

Nglish: Translation of willful for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of willful for Arabic Speakers


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