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[wey-werd] /ˈweɪ wərd/
turned or turning away from what is right or proper; willful; disobedient:
a wayward son; wayward behavior.
swayed or prompted by caprice; capricious:
a wayward impulse; to be wayward in one's affections.
turning or changing irregularly; irregular:
a wayward breeze.
Origin of wayward
1350-1400; Middle English; aphetic variant of awayward. See away, -ward
Related forms
waywardly, adverb
waywardness, noun
unwayward, adjective
1. contrary, headstrong, stubborn, obstinate, unruly, refractory, intractable. See willful. 3. unsteady, inconstant, changeable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wayward
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • From the moment they again met, his wayward heart reverted to her.

    Malbone Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • I have, indeed, been the luckless victim of wayward follies; but, alas!

  • But wayward children must, with all kindness, be flogged into obedience.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Through some trick of wayward thought, to myself and my trouble.

    Poems William D. Howells
  • Then pity won the day in the wayward but ever gentle heart of Valentina.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for wayward


wanting to have one's own way regardless of the wishes or good of others
capricious, erratic, or unpredictable
Derived Forms
waywardly, adverb
waywardness, noun
Word Origin
C14: changed from awayward turned or turning away
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wayward

late 14c., shortening of aweiward "turned away," from away + -ward.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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