willful

adjective will·ful \ ˈwil-fəl \
variants: or wilful
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of willful

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

willfully

play \ˈwil-fə-lē\ adverb

willfulness

noun

Examples of willful in a Sentence

  1. a stubborn and willful child

  2. He has shown a willful disregard for other people's feelings.

Recent Examples of willful from the Web

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

WILLFUL Defined for English Language Learners

willful

adjective

Definition of willful for English Language Learners

  • : refusing to change your ideas or opinions or to stop doing something

  • : done deliberately


WILLFUL Defined for Kids

willful

adjective will·ful
variants: or wilful \ˈwil-fəl\

Definition of willful for Students

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

willfully

\-fə-lē\ adverb

willfulness

noun

Law Dictionary

willful

adjective will·ful
variants: or wilful play \ˈwil-fəl\

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

willfully

adverb

willfulness

noun


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

ditzy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!