View synonyms for wanton


[ won-tn ]


  1. done, shown, used, etc., maliciously or unjustifiably:

    a wanton attack; wanton cruelty.

    Synonyms: malicious

  2. deliberate and without motive or provocation; uncalled-for; headstrong; willful:

    Why jeopardize your career in such a wanton way?

    Synonyms: calculated

  3. without regard for what is right, just, humane, etc.; careless; reckless:

    a wanton attacker of religious convictions.

    Synonyms: inconsiderate, heedless

    Antonyms: considerate, careful

  4. sexually lawless or unrestrained; loose; lascivious; lewd:

    wanton behavior.

    Synonyms: lustful, concupiscent, libidinous, immoral, dissolute, licentious

    Antonyms: restrained

  5. extravagantly or excessively luxurious, as a person, manner of living, or style.

    Synonyms: lavish

    Antonyms: restrained

  6. luxuriant, as vegetation.
  7. Archaic.
    1. sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
    2. having free play:

      wanton breezes; a wanton brook.


  1. a wanton or lascivious person, especially a woman.

verb (used without object)

  1. to behave in a wanton manner; become wanton.

verb (used with object)

  1. to squander, especially in pleasure (often followed by away ):

    to wanton away one's inheritance.

    Synonyms: waste


/ ˈwɒntən /


  1. dissolute, licentious, or immoral
  2. without motive, provocation, or justification

    wanton destruction

  3. maliciously and unnecessarily cruel or destructive
  4. unrestrained

    wanton spending

  5. archaic.
    playful or capricious
  6. archaic.
    (of vegetation, etc) luxuriant or superabundant


  1. a licentious person, esp a woman
  2. a playful or capricious person


  1. intr to behave in a wanton manner
  2. tr to squander or waste

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Derived Forms

  • ˈwantonness, noun
  • ˈwantonly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • wan·ton·ly adverb
  • wan·ton·ness noun
  • un·wan·ton adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of wanton1

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English wantowen, literally, “undisciplined, ill-reared,” Old English wan- “not” + togen, past participle of tēon “to discipline, rear,” cognate with German ziehen, Latin dūcere “to lead”; akin to tow 1

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Word History and Origins

Origin of wanton1

C13 wantowen (in the obsolete sense: unmanageable, unruly): from wan- (prefix equivalent to un- 1; related to Old English wanian to wane ) + -towen, from Old English togen brought up, from tēon to bring up

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Example Sentences

Even in liberal havens like California, many considered what they viewed as an unacceptable surge in public disorder—wanton homeless camps, smash-and-grab burglaries, needles on sidewalks—and voted accordingly.

From TIme

The problem isn’t necessarily the presence of mosquito fish in these ecosystems, Polverino says, but their wanton behavior enabled by a lack of predators.

Although legislation could have prevented such wanton misuse, digitalization would also enable authorities to microtarget where every cent of every stimulus payment went and what it achieved.

From Time

Best of all, riding old bikes doesn’t mean you have to forego the delights of wanton consumerism.

Over a decade, his teaching often took place in an atmosphere of what one cadet called “wanton disrespect.”

One of the reasons the Vikings are viewed so negatively is that their violence could seem wanton or irrational.

His story is largely devoid of wanton violence and gratuitous sex.

Lind ruled that evidence that al Qaeda had obtained information via WikiLeaks was also relevant to proving “wanton publication.”

The new movie Pacific Rim has brought robots bursting back into our collective consciousness like wanton property damage.

He stood by the side of the little river, its clear waters showing the fish darting to and fro, as if in wanton play.

Because the Christian regards the hooligan, the thief, the wanton, and the drunkard as men and women who have done wrong.

You only encourage him in his wanton mischief, and no one takes any heed how he torments my poor Margaret.

Wrongs less wanton and outrageous precipitated the French Revolution.

Mary Manley died; an English authoress, of considerable reputation as a writer, but of a wanton and licentious character.





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