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[wey-werd] /ˈweɪ wərd/
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 forms
waywardly, adverb
waywardness, noun
unwayward, adjective
1. contrary, headstrong, stubborn, obstinate, unruly, refractory, intractable. See willful. 3. unsteady, inconstant, changeable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wayward
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Even so it is with these wayward streams that course down the sides of Ingleborough.

  • Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse850 This wayward brother to his rightful joys!

    Endymion John Keats
  • I was careful that she did not hear from me about the tricks of her wayward children.

    Tramping with Tramps Josiah Flynt
  • Never before had the soul of the wayward girl been so stirred.

    Hope and Have Oliver Optic
  • She was wayward, high tempered, sometimes appearing unreliable and almost unloving.

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 Forms
waywardly, adverb
waywardness, noun
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for wayward

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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