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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for willfulness
Contemporary Examples
  • We can feel her sensuality and willfulness in the first daguerreotype we have of Mary, taken in 1846, when she was twenty-seven.

    Lincoln in Love Jerome Charyn February 14, 2014
Historical Examples
  • Is my niece accounting for her willfulness in staying at home this morning?

    Rutledge Miriam Coles Harris
  • Freedom in this form is only willfulness, because devoid of an inward law.

    Nineteenth Century Questions James Freeman Clarke
  • Don't you realize what the judge will say when I show up your willfulness?

  • Because of our ignorance, our indifference, and our willfulness.

  • And then I knew how heavily Carrie's willfulness had weighed on that patient heart.

    Esther Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • He has all her charm and her willfulness, with the iron will and talent of his father.

    The Heart's Country Mary Heaton Vorse
  • Nevertheless, there was nothing either small or petty in her willfulness.

    The Hermit of Far End Margaret Pedler
  • Her own willfulness had brought her to this pass; she faced that uncompromisingly.

    A Poor Wise Man Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • It surely is that which "willfulness, conceit, and egotism" find hardest to endure.

    Records of a Girlhood Frances Ann Kemble
British Dictionary definitions for willfulness


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 willfulness



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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