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

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 One was unruly, willful and disobedient, and the other was calm and easy to be around. Haben Kelati, Washington Post, 14 Feb. 2024 If the violation can be proved to be knowing or willful the amount is tripled. Peter J Reilly, Forbes, 13 Feb. 2024 Officers later on Wednesday arrested the child’s adoptive father, 37-year-old Cory Blakley, on suspicion of murder and willful cruelty to a child. Rosalio Ahumada, Sacramento Bee, 8 Feb. 2024 The House Committee on Homeland Security released a 20-page resolution on Sunday that accused Mayorkas of willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust. Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 29 Jan. 2024 Mayorkas, 64, faced two charges from the House: willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law and breach of public trust. Kyler Alvord, Peoplemag, 7 Feb. 2024 Your willful and repeated harassment of our Client is in violation of several state laws. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 7 Feb. 2024 Or better yet, once the shooting stops, dismantle UNRWA and replace it with an agency not burdened by its own willful blindness to antisemitic terrorism. David Adesnik, National Review, 2 Feb. 2024 Chula Vista police officers had arrested Ruis Dec. 27 on suspicion of half a dozen charges including domestic violence, willful cruelty to a child and committing a felony while out on bail. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, 31 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'willful.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 24 Feb. 2024.

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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