turned or turning away from what is right or proper; willful; disobedient: a wayward son; wayward behavior.
swayed or prompted by caprice; capricious: a wayward impulse; to be wayward in one's affections.
turning or changing irregularly; irregular: a wayward breeze.

Origin of wayward

1350–1400; Middle English; aphetic variant of awayward. See away, -ward
Related formsway·ward·ly, adverbway·ward·ness, nounun·way·ward, adjective

Synonyms for wayward

1. contrary, headstrong, stubborn, obstinate, unruly, refractory, intractable. See willful. 3. unsteady, inconstant, changeable.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wayward

Contemporary Examples of wayward

Historical Examples of wayward

  • From the moment they again met, his wayward heart reverted to her.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • I have, indeed, been the luckless victim of wayward follies; but, alas!

  • But wayward children must, with all kindness, be flogged into obedience.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Through some trick of wayward thought, to myself and my trouble.


    William D. Howells

  • Then pity won the day in the wayward but ever gentle heart of Valentina.


    Raphael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for wayward



wanting to have one's own way regardless of the wishes or good of others
capricious, erratic, or unpredictable
Derived Formswaywardly, adverbwaywardness, noun

Word Origin for wayward

C14: changed from awayward turned or turning away
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 wayward

late 14c., shortening of aweiward "turned away," from away + -ward.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper