- done, shown, used, etc., maliciously or unjustifiably: a wanton attack; wanton cruelty.
- deliberate and without motive or provocation; uncalled-for; headstrong; willful: Why jeopardize your career in such a wanton way?
- without regard for what is right, just, humane, etc.; careless; reckless: a wanton attacker of religious convictions.
- sexually lawless or unrestrained; loose; lascivious; lewd: wanton behavior.
- extravagantly or excessively luxurious, as a person, manner of living, or style.
- luxuriant, as vegetation.
- sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
- having free play: wanton breezes; a wanton brook.
- a wanton or lascivious person, especially a woman.
- to behave in a wanton manner; become wanton.
- to squander, especially in pleasure (often followed by away): to wanton away one's inheritance.
Origin of wanton
SynonymsSee more synonyms for wanton on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for wanton
Over a decade, his teaching often took place in an atmosphere of what one cadet called “wanton disrespect.”Stonewall Jackson, VMI’s Most Embattled Professor
S. C. Gwynne
November 29, 2014
His story is largely devoid of wanton violence and gratuitous sex.What Would You Do if the World Was Over?
August 5, 2014
Lind ruled that evidence that al Qaeda had obtained information via WikiLeaks was also relevant to proving “wanton publication.”Questions Over Judge’s Rulings But Little Hope for Bradley Manning
July 31, 2013
The new movie Pacific Rim has brought robots bursting back into our collective consciousness like wanton property damage.Terminator, Wall-E & More of the Best Robots in Film (Video)
July 13, 2013
No huge tax cuts for the rich; no repeal of Obamacare; no opposition to same-sex marriage; no wanton unilateralism; and so on.The Case for Transformation
January 23, 2013
How could I have imagined that a young noble would be grateful, or a wanton true?The Man Shakespeare
This language is wanton cruelty,—it is fiendish insult,—is it not, Evelyn?Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete
But I wad sing on wanton wing, When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.The Letters of Robert Burns
Wherefore a man ought not to play the wanton, but should learn in season.Albert Durer
T. Sturge Moore
Faithful had been assailed by 'Wanton,' and had been obliged to fly from her.Bunyan
James Anthony Froude
- dissolute, licentious, or immoral
- without motive, provocation, or justificationwanton destruction
- maliciously and unnecessarily cruel or destructive
- unrestrainedwanton spending
- archaic, or poetic playful or capricious
- archaic (of vegetation, etc) luxuriant or superabundant
- a licentious person, esp a woman
- a playful or capricious person
- (intr) to behave in a wanton manner
- (tr) to squander or waste
Word Origin and History for wanton
c.1300, wan-towen, "resistant to control; willful," from Middle English privative prefix wan- "wanting, lacking" (from Old English wan "wanting;" see wane) + togen, past participle of teon "to train, discipline;" literally "to pull, draw," from Proto-Germanic *teuhan (cf. Old High German ziohan "to pull;" see tug). The basic notion perhaps is "ill-bred, poorly brought up;" cf. German ungezogen "ill-bred, rude, haughty," literally "unpulled."
As Flies to wanton Boyes are we to th' Gods, They kill vs for their sport. [Shakespeare, "Lear," 1605]
Especially of sexual indulgence from late 14c. The only English survival of a once-common Germanic negating prefix still active in Dutch (cf. wanbestuur "misgovernment," wanluid "discordant sound"), German (wahn-), etc. Related: Wantonly; wantonness.
"one who is ill-behaved," especially (but not originally) "lascivious, lewd person," c.1400, from wanton (adj.).
1580s, from wanton (n.). Related: Wantoned; wantoning.