Definition of wanton in English:



  • 1(of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked.

    ‘sheer wanton vandalism’
    • ‘Just like without the wanton slaughter, rape and theft of Native Americans and their territories there would be NO USA whatsoever!’
    • ‘Jackson and Lee continued to preside over the wanton slaughter of men, women and children to defend the rights of freedom for white Virginians while supporting the slavery of black Virginians, among others.’
    • ‘Stone throwing was inflicting a great deal of injury upon these beautiful birds, and the public who enjoyed strolls on the river's banks could render the most valuable service in stopping the wanton and cruel practice.’
    • ‘Both acts of wanton destruction were deliberately aimed at symbolically injuring the self-esteem of the targeted victims, beside tremendous loss of innocent lives.’
    • ‘The corporate Visigoths' worst act of wanton destruction was the demolition of one of the most distinguished terraces ever designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, the genius of the genre.’
    • ‘A City priest vowed yesterday that he is no longer willing to turn the other cheek and tolerate the repeated acts of wanton vandalism to the windows of the presbytery which is also his home.’
    • ‘It is his own wanton destruction of the bountiful and generous Mother Earth which will finally compel him to change his ways.’
    • ‘They then demanded an apology for this ‘unprovoked and wanton attack’.’
    • ‘It's all about growth and building something successful - instead of wanton violence and destruction.’
    • ‘This may sound like wishful thinking but how else will we create hope from the despair of untold child death, wanton neglect of girls and women, and a rich elite feasting on the misery of millions in poverty?’
    • ‘This wanton act of vandalism took a lot of effort and it's a sad reflection on how society can be today.’
    • ‘A young man starting out in life has had his business badly damaged by this wanton destruction.’
    • ‘On Monday, September 13, we found that the glass had been smashed again, so the council has to now believe that it is just stupid, wanton vandalism.’
    • ‘But legitimate protest has become mixed up with wanton destruction or even violence unrelated to the activities of the businesses attacked.’
    • ‘It is wanton and pointless vandalism which has caused a lot of disruption to the school, but also those who carry out such attacks are putting their own safety at risk.’
    • ‘The contrast between the world's wanton violence and promiscuity on the one hand, and the Torah's pristine standards and sensitivities on the other, must have been astounding.’
    • ‘The wanton and deliberate demolition of the Babri Masjid by the Hindu fundamentalist forces in December 1992 was a watershed in the governance of the country.’
    • ‘Suffice to say that BECAUSE we can sue employers for injuries and harassment at work, they're not in a position to take wanton liberties with the employees who generate their profits.’
    • ‘Their wanton vandalism causes money to be wasted and toilets to close.’
    • ‘While we accept that feelings are running high on the issue of military landings at Shannon Airport, this kind of wanton vandalism does nothing to heighten our credibility and will probably do more damage than good.’
    deliberate, wilful, malicious, malevolent, spiteful, vicious, wicked, evil, cruel
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  • 2(especially of a woman) sexually immodest or promiscuous.

    • ‘A few kisses in the moonlight and I turned into a shameless, wanton creature so unlike myself.’
    • ‘Because they live in magnificent mansions on sprawling estates with wanton wives in jodhpurs and children with blue eyes and blonde hair, you instinctively believe that they are a higher life form.’
    • ‘The later patriarchal cultures denounced them as immoral and wanton.’
    • ‘Maybe if I hang out with enough gays they'll be able to convert me and I can proceed to indulge in wanton and indiscriminate sexual encounters with both genders.’
    • ‘I couldn't wait to find out and if that made me a wanton woman so be it.’
    • ‘Writer-director Roth seems just as confused as his main character, offering wanton sexual comedy one minute and a custody battle the next, all without any context or evident structure.’
    • ‘When is a bawdy, ribald tale of a wanton wench and her very naughty sexual adventures as boring as a trip to the Field Museum to watch dinosaur bones fossilize?’
    • ‘Together they roam the streets, picking up prostitutes and other willing, wanton woman to calm their near-desperate need for the female form.’
    • ‘First went Anoushka, who had barely unpacked her bags before she was taking baths in front of a still sheepish Cameron and signalling her readiness for wild, wanton sex.’
    • ‘Yet we never understand why she lives her life as such a wanton woman.’
    • ‘Sure there were a few drunks and wanton women scattered around the common room of the Gray Mule Inn, but it seemed like a friendly place.’
    • ‘By behaving in this salacious and wanton manner in a very public area, she is telling men that girls are just horny creatures who totally obey to men once they get us wet.’
    • ‘So he learns a siren song on the Hammond upright, woos wanton waitresses to his seaside flat and then tickles their ivories with the help of a love drug.’
    • ‘For a moment I toyed with presenting myself as a wanton temptress with a dozen regular gentlemen callers and a bedside drawer full of Mates.’
    • ‘Her friendship with the fashion glitterati would be endangered by Ronan's cowboy sense of style, his membership at the golf club threatened by her wild and wanton ways.’
    • ‘I simply take this logic to its conclusion and point out that this woman's wanton and libertine approach to grace is the camel's nose under the tent.’
    • ‘But behind the comic veneer was a clear message about the dangers of wanton sexual activity.’
    • ‘Speaking about wanton pleasures, I've been dipping into The Adulterer's Bible by Cliff Fell, which was launched last night.’
    • ‘He unabashedly hits on women and has wanton sex with several women (not at the same time) - something Alex never would have done but always wanted to.’
    • ‘In several paintings horizontal gestures at the lower edge of the canvas create a platform on which the thrown-back head of a wanton figure rests, low woman in the orgy of forms piling up above.’
    promiscuous, immoral, loose, immodest, indecent, shameless, unblushing, unchaste, unvirtuous, fast, of easy virtue, impure, abandoned, lustful, lecherous, lascivious, salacious, lubricious, libidinous, licentious, libertine, profligate, dissolute, dissipated, debauched, degenerate, reprobate, corrupt, sinful, whorish, disreputable
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  • 3archaic Growing profusely; luxuriant.

    ‘where wanton ivy twines’
    1. 3.1Lively; playful.
      ‘a wanton fawn’
      • ‘Her relationship with the US director is only one episode in a very wild and wanton life, which has provided her with plenty of other material to work with.’


  • A sexually immodest or promiscuous woman.


[NO OBJECT]literary, archaic
  • 1Play; frolic.

  • 2Behave in a sexually immodest or promiscuous way.

    • ‘She, who had not come to wanton, used a borrowed wantonness as the instrument of her devotion and courage.’


Middle English wantowen rebellious, lacking discipline from wan- badly + Old English togen trained (related to team and tow).