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[wil-fuh l] /ˈwɪl fəl/
Related forms
wilfully, adverb
wilfulness, noun
unwilful, adjective
unwilfully, adverb
unwilfulness, noun


or wilful

[wil-fuh l] /ˈwɪl fəl/
deliberate, voluntary, or intentional:
The coroner ruled the death willful murder.
unreasonably stubborn or headstrong; self-willed.
Origin of willful
1150-1200; Middle English; Old English wilful willing. See will2, -ful
Related forms
willfully, adverb
willfulness, noun
half-willful, adjective
half-willfully, adverb
half-willfulness, noun
unwillful, adjective
unwillfully, adverb
unwillfulness, noun
1. volitional. 2. intransigent; contrary, refractory, pigheaded, inflexible, obdurate, adamant. Willful, headstrong, perverse, wayward refer to one who stubbornly insists upon doing as he or she pleases. Willful suggests a stubborn persistence in doing what one wishes, especially in opposition to those whose wishes or commands ought to be respected or obeyed: that willful child who disregarded his parents' advice. One who is headstrong is often foolishly, and sometimes violently, self-willed: reckless and headstrong youths. The perverse person is unreasonably or obstinately intractable or contrary, often with the express intention of being disagreeable: perverse out of sheer spite. Wayward in this sense has the connotation of rash wrongheadedness that gets one into trouble: a reform school for wayward girls.
2. obedient, tractable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wilful
Historical Examples
  • That would be presumption indeed, not to say wilful self-deception.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • There is no halt to be looked for, no tranquillity in renunciation and wilful blindness.

    Doctor Pascal Emile Zola
  • Of such a quality is the love of princes—vain, capricious, and wilful.

    Bardelys the Magnificent Rafael Sabatini
  • Suddenly she seemed to him most pathetic in her wilful folly.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • You preferred being obstinate and wilful toward me, I suppose?

    A Bride of the Plains

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy
  • The girl was the wilful daughter of a Basque rancher over on the Porcupine.

    They of the High Trails

    Hamlin Garland
  • Many of these fires, it is said, are due to the wilful mischief of boys and others.

  • On the 29th of April 1754, she was brought to trial for wilful and corrupt perjury.

  • I have been wilful all my life, but I am glad I did not take my own way this time.

    Mary Gray Katharine Tynan
  • Phœbe, you're a wilful child and I'm afraid I spoil you more.

    Patchwork Anna Balmer Myers
British Dictionary definitions for wilful


intent on having one's own way; headstrong or obstinate
intentional: wilful murder
Derived Forms
wilfully, (US) willfully, adverb
wilfulness, (US) willfulness, noun


the US spelling of wilful
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 wilful



c.1200, "strong-willed," from will (n.) + -ful. Willfully is late Old English wilfullice "of one's own free will, voluntarily;" bad sense of "on purpose" is attested from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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