[wil-fuh l]
Related formswil·ful·ly, adverbwil·ful·ness, nounun·wil·ful, adjectiveun·wil·ful·ly, adverbun·wil·ful·ness, noun


or wil·ful

  1. deliberate, voluntary, or intentional: The coroner ruled the death willful murder.
  2. unreasonably stubborn or headstrong; self-willed.

Origin of willful

1150–1200; Middle English; Old English wilful willing. See will2, -ful
Related formswill·ful·ly, adverbwill·ful·ness, nounhalf-will·ful, adjectivehalf-will·ful·ly, adverbhalf-will·ful·ness, nounun·will·ful, adjectiveun·will·ful·ly, adverbun·will·ful·ness, noun

Synonyms for willful

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.

Antonyms for willful

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wilful

Historical Examples of wilful

  • That would be presumption indeed, not to say wilful self-deception.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

  • There is no halt to be looked for, no tranquillity in renunciation and wilful blindness.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • Of such a quality is the love of princes—vain, capricious, and wilful.

  • Suddenly she seemed to him most pathetic in her wilful folly.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • You preferred being obstinate and wilful toward me, I suppose?

    A Bride of the Plains

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy

British Dictionary definitions for wilful


US willful

  1. intent on having one's own way; headstrong or obstinate
  2. intentionalwilful murder
Derived Formswilfully or US willfully, adverbwilfulness or US willfulness, noun


  1. 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

Word Origin and History for wilful



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