- sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
- having free play: wanton breezes; a wanton brook.
verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
Origin of wanton
Examples from the Web for wantonly
Now his people were wantonly punished for resisting the expulsion; for seeking to reverse it.
Yet are there people so wantonly in need of sport as to do so.Adventures and Enthusiasms|E. V. Lucas
Therefore he kills them only as necessity and the exigencies of life demand, and not wantonly.Red Hunters And the Animal People|Charles A. Eastman
Cruel and oppressive she wantonly abuses the rights of man, and willingly sacrifices her liberty upon the altar of slavery.Anti-Slavery Opinions before the Year 1800|William Frederick Poole
Word Origin for wanton
"one who is ill-behaved," especially (but not originally) "lascivious, lewd person," c.1400, from wanton (adj.).
1580s, from wanton (n.). Related: Wantoned; wantoning.
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.