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 To be gullible is to be anachronistically innocent in the digital age, out of step, or guilty of a kind of willful ignorance. Hannah Zeavin, Harper’s Magazine , 22 June 2022 The mothers named the state of California and Ruelas in their complaint, claiming wrongful death against all defendants and willful misconduct by Ruelas. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2022 The maximum penalty an individual taxpayer may incur for a non-willful violation of the FBAR requirements is $10,000. Marie Sapirie, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 Accidents, mistakes, fear, negligence and bad judgment are insufficient to establish a willful federal criminal civil rights violation. Mallika Kallingal And Jamie Crawford, CNN, 8 Oct. 2021 The shows can also be quite funny, as the cast members’ projections and willful denial are revealed on camera. Kate Aurthur, Variety, 1 Oct. 2021 If a fire agency responds to a fire that has been started in willful violation of the burn ban, the person responsible may be liable for all costs incurred, as well as legal fees. oregonlive, 18 June 2021 Burcham was arrested on two outstanding warrants, both for willful abuse of a child, on May 17 and transported to the Shelby County Jail, according to the sheriff’s press release. Al.com Staff, al, 22 May 2022 Also still popping up in the background are Jimmy and his wild and willful assistant Kayla (Megan Stalter), as their absurdist power struggle reaches new heights. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, 11 May 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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Statistics for willful

Last Updated

30 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Willful.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/willful. Accessed 5 Jul. 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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