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 This requires an aggressive level of willful blindness. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The President and His Whistleblower," 26 Sep. 2019 As a result, neither NGSE nor PST is liable for any negligent or willful act or failure to act of any Other Provider, or of any other third party. National Geographic, "Terms & Conditions," 15 Sep. 2019 McEwan was charged with breaking and entering and willful trespassing. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "New Jersey Man Charged After Doing 'Doughnuts' On President Trump's Golf Course," 11 Sep. 2019 In late August, McEwan, 26, was arrested in Westerly, Rhode Island, inside a home belonging to Swift and was charged with breaking, entering and willful trespassing, The Westerly Sun newspaper reported. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "Man charged with breaking into Taylor Swift's home is accused of doing 'donuts' at Trump golf course," 11 Sep. 2019 McEwan has been charged with breaking and entering and willful trespassing in the Taylor Swift case. Suzanne Russell, USA TODAY, "Man accused of doing doughnuts at Trump golf course also charged in Taylor Swift break-in," 10 Sep. 2019 My daughter has always been headstrong and willful. Amy Dickinson, Detroit Free Press, "Mother objects to daughter’s gender transitioning partner," 27 Apr. 2018 Similarly, Lewis’s friend the novelist Charles Williams, in Descent Into Hell, described damnation as complete and willful self-isolation by people who have destroyed their capacity to love. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "Did Pope Francis Abolish Hell?," 30 Mar. 2018 Mark Rogers, 59, was arraigned Wednesday on charges including one count of willful cruelty to an elder, three counts of theft and 10 counts of failing to have a business tax certificate. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Toxic gas, rodents and bed bugs: Independent living facility operator charged with elder abuse," 12 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for willful

Last Updated

11 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for willful

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

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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

Comments on willful

What made you want to look up willful? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not being in agreement or harmony

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