or wil·ful



deliberate, voluntary, or intentional: The coroner ruled the death willful murder.
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. 2019

Examples from the Web for willfulness

Contemporary Examples of willfulness

  • We can feel her sensuality and willfulness in the first daguerreotype we have of Mary, taken in 1846, when she was twenty-seven.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Lincoln in Love

    Jerome Charyn

    February 14, 2014

Historical Examples of willfulness

  • Is my niece accounting for her willfulness in staying at home this morning?


    Miriam Coles Harris

  • Freedom in this form is only willfulness, because devoid of an inward law.

    Nineteenth Century Questions

    James Freeman Clarke

  • Don't you realize what the judge will say when I show up your willfulness?

  • Because of our ignorance, our indifference, and our willfulness.

  • And then I knew how heavily Carrie's willfulness had weighed on that patient heart.


    Rosa Nouchette Carey

British Dictionary definitions for willfulness



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 willfulness



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