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or wilful

[wil-fuh l] /ˈwɪl fəl/
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 forms
willfully, adverb
willfulness, noun
half-willful, adjective
half-willfully, adverb
half-willfulness, noun
unwillful, adjective
unwillfully, adverb
unwillfulness, noun
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.
2. obedient, tractable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for willfulness
Contemporary Examples
  • We can feel her sensuality and willfulness in the first daguerreotype we have of Mary, taken in 1846, when she was twenty-seven.

    Lincoln in Love Jerome Charyn February 13, 2014
Historical Examples
  • But she is always repentant and remorseful after her willfulness until—she is crossed again.

    His Heart's Queen Mrs. Georgie Sheldon
  • Don't you realize what the judge will say when I show up your willfulness?

  • An environment of freedom and authority will help him achieve a balance between love and hate, co-operation and willfulness.

    Herein is Love Reuel L. Howe
  • He has all her charm and her willfulness, with the iron will and talent of his father.

    The Heart's Country Mary Heaton Vorse
  • Because of our ignorance, our indifference, and our willfulness.

  • Nevertheless, there was nothing either small or petty in her willfulness.

    The Hermit of Far End Margaret Pedler
  • Her willfulness was quite broken, and now she sought only to make Skirnir unsay the words of horror.

    In The Days of Giants Abbie Farwell Brown
  • In spite of her willfulness and caprices Mrs. Wilmott was full of generous impulses and loyal to her friends.

    Through the Wall Cleveland Moffett
  • We reckon as faults those only which arise from idleness, willfulness, selfishness, and deliberate preference of evil to good.

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
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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
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