- deliberate, voluntary, or intentional: The coroner ruled the death willful murder.
- unreasonably stubborn or headstrong; self-willed.
Origin of willful
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for willful
The movement was a willful, angry child, though, exploding away from “art” and from the canvas in particular.The Life and Art of Radical Provocateur—and Commune Leader—Otto Muehl
September 22, 2014
Cribs, unlike seatbelts, are built for the purpose of willful prevention.Is It Wrong for Parents to Lock Up Their Disabled Kids?
August 4, 2014
Is the study of society undertaken with a willful ignorance of moral philosophy, theology, civics, and Econ 101.P.J. on the Owl-Monkey Project and the Science of Chick Flicks
P. J. O’Rourke
April 6, 2014
Will his legacy be his willful perpetuation of the human rights travesty at Guantánamo, or will it be even worse?Obama’s Catastrophic Guantánamo Failure
April 29, 2013
Their critics were right—these women were guilty of willful provocation—and I hope we will be, too.Women Of The Wall, Sarah Silverman-Style
February 13, 2013
But though Pauline was willful, she had other and great and noble qualities.
But young girls are willful, and the upshot of the whole matter was—she eloped with him.
Mrs. Kemp knew no other than her beautiful, willful niece's pleasure.
And willful too—he just mopes around because he wants to show me I'm wrong.
He was selfish, willful, and obstinate at two-and-thirty as he had been at ten years of age.Paul Patoff
F. Marion Crawford
- 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
Word Origin and History for willful
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper