variants or wilful

Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective willful differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of willful are headstrong, intractable, recalcitrant, refractory, ungovernable, and unruly. While all these words mean "not submissive to government or control," willful implies an obstinate determination to have one's own way.

a willful disregard for the rights of others

When can headstrong be used instead of willful?

Although the words headstrong and willful have much in common, headstrong suggests self-will impatient of restraint, advice, or suggestion.

a headstrong young cavalry officer

When would intractable be a good substitute for willful?

The words intractable and willful are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, intractable suggests stubborn resistance to guidance or control.

intractable opponents of the hazardous-waste dump

When is recalcitrant a more appropriate choice than willful?

While in some cases nearly identical to willful, recalcitrant suggests determined resistance to or defiance of authority.

acts of sabotage by a recalcitrant populace

Where would refractory be a reasonable alternative to willful?

While the synonyms refractory and willful are close in meaning, refractory stresses resistance to attempts to manage or to mold.

special schools for refractory children

When is it sensible to use ungovernable instead of willful?

The synonyms ungovernable and willful are sometimes interchangeable, but 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

When might unruly be a better fit than willful?

In some situations, the words unruly and willful are roughly equivalent. However, unruly implies lack of discipline or incapacity for discipline and often connotes waywardness or turbulence of behavior.

unruly children

Thesaurus Entries Near willful

Cite this Entry

“Willful.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/willful. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

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