Main definitions of will in English

: will1will2



  • 1Expressing the future tense.

    ‘you will regret it when you are older’
    • ‘During the festival he will present a series of new sculptural and printed works.’
    • ‘He will also present his views on what has been achieved so far and what is yet to come.’
    • ‘From strong clumps you will get a great display of flowers that last for a long time.’
    • ‘Pupils from Tong School will present a piece of drama based on substance misuse.’
    • ‘Now that she has settled into the British way of life the move to Bradford is one she will never regret.’
    • ‘Examples of these different types of regimes will be given in the next section.’
    • ‘When he finally gets to see the contract, he will, in all probability, laugh as much as I did.’
    • ‘Clarke will know that if he performs well he will be in a strong position to bid for the premiership.’
    • ‘Alcohol loosens tongues and will allow you to say things you will truly regret later.’
    • ‘Soon there will be bitter regret at all the public land being squandered irredeemably.’
    • ‘The committee will also explore different ways of funding light rail to reduce costs.’
    • ‘Capacity plans will be examined further in the next few months, but are not expected to change.’
    • ‘There is an expectation that there will be a reduction in staff numbers in the UK.’
    • ‘As the river gets deeper the stronger current will start to take you downstream.’
    • ‘Whatever he says over the next day or two, I expect he will probably take a year off and then decide what to do.’
    • ‘Organisers hope a celebrity guest will be present for the day, which was a huge success last year.’
    • ‘If the developers decide to put the road on part of the track bed then the town council will be powerless to stop them.’
    • ‘It is usually a busy holiday weekend on the roads - but this year will be different.’
    • ‘The tax will not be for life, and will stop when the fees have been paid off.’
    • ‘Each celebrity will be taking three penalties and a trophy will be presented to the winning side.’
    1. 1.1Expressing a strong intention or assertion about the future.
      ‘come what may, I will succeed’
      • ‘Some health professionals also advocate cutting down if smokers cannot or will not stop.’
      • ‘You have to be very strong because you will get knockbacks and you'll have to reassess.’
      • ‘We are people who stand by our friends at times of need and we will do so now.’
      • ‘This is an ideal taster before you rush out and buy the album - which you inevitably will.’
      • ‘The welfare of the tree is our main concern and we will do what we can to protect it.’
      • ‘One day we will succeed; it may take a long time, but finally, my generation – the first global generation – will fully understand the value of nature.’
      • ‘I will stop being so silly and spontaneous and open towards everyone and everything.’
      • ‘As President, I will not wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake.’
      • ‘It just takes so long to get the help needed but I'm so much stronger now and I know I will get through it.’
      • ‘There will therefore be no accidents, no speeding, no road rage and no idiotic driving.’
      • ‘We will stop the menace, so our children can once again play safely on the green.’
      • ‘We will win the title easily and at least a cup competition like the European or FA Cup.’
      • ‘If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.’
      • ‘You have to believe in your own ability and that you will keep your place in the side.’
      • ‘We are a very strong team and we will turn it around.’
      • ‘In fact, I will continue laying the table outside until everyone refuses to join me.’
      • ‘As long as smoking exists in a legal capacity I will continue to smoke in designated areas.’
      • ‘I will stand in the water and look at my stretching belly and thank Lakshmi for my great good luck.’
      • ‘I will persist until I succeed.’
  • 2Expressing inevitable events.

    ‘accidents will happen’
    • ‘When a court makes this value judgment the facts will often speak for themselves.’
    • ‘It is a necessary fact that animals will die and suffer in the pursuit of human betterment.’
    • ‘There will always be different trends of opinion in any large, growing socialist party.’
    • ‘We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.’
    • ‘There are other people who will want his job, who will have different ideas of what to do next.’
    have a tendency to, are bound to, have a habit of, do
    View synonyms
  • 3Expressing a request.

    ‘will you stop here, please’
    • ‘By the way, you will stop me when I get a title graphic up that everyone likes won't you?’
    1. 3.1Expressing desire, consent, or willingness.
      ‘will you have a cognac?’
      • ‘For her vacation, Julie decides to go wherever the first car that stops will take her.’
      • ‘The fact that some retailers will accept euros is not an argument for replacing the pound.’
      • ‘He is keen to cater to all and if requested will happily search out brands he doesn't already stock.’
      • ‘On the surface it promotes the idea that the New York Times will cover all newsworthy events.’
      • ‘Neither man will give his consent for the use of the embryos, which is required by law.’
      • ‘Bury is not hosting any official events, but will help groups to organise parties.’
  • 4Expressing facts about ability or capacity.

    ‘a rock so light that it will float on water’
    ‘your tank will hold about 26 gallons’
    • ‘The way we choose to interpret and perceive stares will influence our ability to cope with them.’
    • ‘Most prefer sun where their colour will be brighter, but will also cope with light shade.’
    • ‘Testing of hair will provide an indicator of drug use at the time the hair was grown.’
    • ‘My present finances will run to either a pogo stick or a pair of roller skates.’
    • ‘It is, however, well established that the land with a crop on it will hold more water than a bare field.’
    • ‘They will also float if you drop one overboard and you can scoop it up with a fish net.’
    • ‘You should stop when the syllabub will lie in thick, soft folds, only just keeping its shape.’
    • ‘The official line is that the blocks will stop a truck driven by a suicide-bomber.’
    • ‘A glance at a field guide will indicate the vast area occupied by breeding curlews.’
    • ‘We must develop a program that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income.’
    • ‘Remember most of the dance and aerobics videos will require a clear space for you to move in.’
    • ‘There are shareware programs that will generate tones of frequencies you specify.’
  • 5Expressing habitual behavior.

    ‘she will dance for hours’
    • ‘All I have to do is walk down the street and kids and adults will stop and gawk at me.’
    • ‘The strongest animals will never allow themselves to be captured and put in cages.’
    • ‘They will do this at a certain time of day and the great thing is to break them of the habit.’
    • ‘Americans will do anything to avoid a drawn match and in baseball they do anything.’
    • ‘If you are a few feet away from the bus stop or running towards it, the driver will not stop for you.’
    • ‘He is a strong character and will make people listen to him, but he always has the argument to back his ideas up.’
    1. 5.1(pronounced stressing “will”) indicating annoyance about the habitual behavior described.
      ‘he will keep intruding’
  • 6Expressing probability or expectation about something in the present.

    ‘they will be miles away by now’
    • ‘The anger felt in the Square Mile will probably not be comprehensible to him, but it is real.’
    • ‘Some will have strong links with churches and faith groups and community centres.’
    • ‘Since this is a matter of probabilities, it will often not be easy to calculate.’
    • ‘However often the symptoms will be present for some months or years before help is sought.’
    • ‘On reflection, Moss will probably feel he should have done a little better from close range.’


On the differences in use between will and shall, see shall


  • will do

    • informal Expressing willingness to carry out a request or suggestion.

      ‘“Might be best to check.” “OK, will do.”’


Old English wyllan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch willen, German wollen, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin velle will, wish.




Main definitions of will in English

: will1will2



  • 1[usually in singular] The faculty by which a person decides on and initiates action.

    ‘she has an iron will’
    ‘a battle of wills between children and their parents’
    [mass noun] ‘an act of will’
    • ‘Conflict is always a conflict of minds and wills of the parties involved.’
    • ‘They may impose their wills, but that does not bring respect.’
    • ‘Rather than conforming their minds, hearts and wills to God's purposes, humans are adept at manipulating the name of God to serve their own agendas.’
    • ‘And rather than having his will broken with the harshness of an over-firm hand, he keeps his spirit.’
    • ‘A recent television program on Siamese twins demonstrated how a pair of joined, genetically identical humans had different preferences and quite distinct wills and spirits.’
    • ‘It takes a real blockhead with a will of iron to make it worse.’
    • ‘He had fear in him but a strong will that motivated him to continue with his orders.’
    • ‘Indeed, like any parent of a growing child, he found himself increasingly confronting an independent entity with a will of its own.’
    • ‘We have to recognise that we have laid most of the building blocks already and that it is too late to win a battle of wills.’
    • ‘He would have burned the ‘Sea Lyrics’ on the spot, had his will been strong enough to set them aflame.’
    • ‘Rival deities battle to impose their wills upon the world.’
    • ‘If he is determined to make this a battle of wills, the outcome could be very messy.’
    • ‘The critique of Manichee dualism and determinism led him to lay strong emphasis on the will.’
    • ‘The novel traces her effort to find and then preserve her own identity as a woman, with a will and desires of her own, rather than as a queen, expected to play a role that does not answer the innermost promptings of her heart.’
    • ‘It became this battle of wills between the two sides.’
    • ‘Just as breaking the enemy's will is the surest way to success, so having our will broken is the surest path to defeat.’
    • ‘Both had the ability to impose their wills over their opponents.’
    • ‘Ambitious on it as they are off it, the players are technically-gifted and hard-working, with a will of iron.’
    • ‘After the christening, the ship majestically slides to the bottom of the harbor, and so we haven't managed after all to launch her, though that was our intention and our wills were in perfect working order.’
    • ‘Second, it is clear that we sometimes ‘want what we by no means want to want’: our bodies react with pleasure and desire independently of our wills.’
    determination, firmness of purpose, fixity of purpose, will power, strength of character, resolution, resolve, resoluteness, purposefulness, single-mindedness, drive, commitment, dedication, doggedness, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, backbone, spine
    volition, choice, option, decision, discretion, prerogative
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one's own impulses.
      ‘a stupendous effort of will’
      • ‘How the ambulances manage to get through in an emergency is anybody's guess, sheer willpower and good luck I think.’
      • ‘But if your willpower starts to wane, start paying more attention to what you are eating.’
      • ‘Each, through sheer willpower and application, became a supreme footballer.’
      • ‘What underlies his willpower is the knowledge that he has trained as hard as possible.’
      • ‘The man looked to be using every ounce of willpower he possessed to restrain himself.’
      • ‘Now, there is no longer any need for willpower: you have remade yourself.’
      • ‘She soon realized that wasn't going to work, and that simple willpower would have to do.’
      • ‘I even turned to drinking once but overcame it with hard work and willpower.’
      • ‘But it is also a story of indomitable willpower, and the courage and dignity of the human spirit.’
      • ‘Quitting smoking is an uphill climb which requires patience, willpower and lots of tissues.’
      • ‘I am proud of myself; I have managed to fulfill a feat of endurance and willpower and maintain control over my body.’
      • ‘It took me all my willpower, which isn't much, to not ring him back.’
      • ‘But riding is not just another routine challenge she can master through sheer willpower.’
      • ‘It doesn't require willpower, and it doesn't even need you to worry directly about your diet or exercise levels at all.’
      • ‘With a combination of willpower and unending generosity, fans managed to haul the club back from the brink.’
      • ‘It was all downhill from there I guess: I have absolutely no willpower, damn me.’
      • ‘It took all my willpower to restrain from running to the harbor and instead follow Mr. Kenton at a swift pace.’
      • ‘His tears were coming down his cheeks faster now but he had no will left to stop it.’
      • ‘While some have the strength and willpower to be able to quit on their own, many others will need a bit more help and support.’
      • ‘My own willpower in such situations usually fails me.’
    2. 1.2A deliberate or fixed desire or intention.
      ‘Jane had not wanted them to stay against their will’
      [with infinitive] ‘the will to live’
      • ‘The will or desire to act can be wholesome at one moment and unwholesome at another moment.’
      • ‘Artistic talent is very often present, but the will to express this talent may be slow to appear.’
      • ‘Against this image of authority lay that of the tsar, the very good but very mysterious ‘little father’ of his peoples, who had his will constantly thwarted by the likes of landlords and officers, those who exercised immediate authority.’
      • ‘Everyone who heard Boris was left feeling tremendously buoyant about life in general and bursting with a will to go out and do everything possible to help the Conservative cause.’
      • ‘It's likely that these TV personalities aren't actually lefty liberals with a will to help the poor and needy.’
      • ‘These were two egos competing for attention in a town where celebrities are omnipresent, each pulling in different directions, yet both fired with a will to win.’
      • ‘Hopefully I'll come back refreshed and with a will to get on with lots of exciting things!’
      • ‘There is a will to succeed that took too long to hone to be put into retirement so soon.’
      • ‘This is a declaration of military intent, of the will to shed blood and tears for a fellow nation.’
      • ‘Jacklin is not alone in questioning the will to succeed among some of the young players in Europe.’
      • ‘As Hume illustrates, we might suppose that there are no Reasons in the area of ethics - just the desires or wills of particular persons, not necessarily shared or respected by anyone else.’
      • ‘I doubted, as I watched over the little boy's head, that the old man would live, but there were always several people who had strong wills to live.’
      • ‘Like many philosophers he held that the highest form of freedom involves willing as one should, namely, having one's will in step with one's right values.’
      • ‘She says that her experience in care left her with a will and a means to destroy herself quietly for many years both physically and psychologically.’
      • ‘Anyone with a will to live wouldn't have taken such a great risk.’
      • ‘Even people who care about the country are slowly having their will to change things drained out of them.’
      • ‘He won because he had to win; because for him, the will to win is as strong as the will to live.’
      desire, wish, preference, inclination, mind, disposition
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The thing that one desires or ordains.
      ‘the disaster was God's will’
      • ‘Instead, they explain that all humans have wills and desires, and it should not be surprising that infants also express theirs.’
      • ‘They are enacting their own selfish wills, and teaching us to do the same.’
      wish, desire, decision, choice, intention
      View synonyms
  • 2A legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one's money and property after one's death.

    • ‘And those jurisdictions have also eliminated discrimination in the areas of property division, wills, stamp duty and hospital visitation rights.’
    • ‘The Family Records Centre, in Islington, holds census information from 1841, wills and birth, death and marriage certificates.’
    • ‘It is essential that both partners make wills appointing testamentary guardians in the event of their death while the children are still under 18.’
    • ‘Mr Prior has reminded me that he is the nominated executor of two wills of other members of his family.’
    • ‘The manual, launched on 22 February, will help in writing wills and testaments.’
    • ‘Up and down the country, thousands of other people have done the same, yet all of us knew at the time we signed such documents that these wills had no proper legal status.’
    • ‘Durable power of attorney documents, like wills and trusts, can be changed or rewritten as needed.’
    • ‘Specifics such as whether the couples were registered partners or had drawn up legal wills shall factor into each decision.’
    • ‘In her classes, she pestered professors with questions about how the legal topic in question - wills and trusts, property law - might apply to pets.’
    • ‘Members of religious orders may inherit only small life pensions and cannot dispose of property through wills.’
    • ‘Among other material now available online is Scotland's statutory registers of births, deaths and marriages along with wills and testaments.’
    • ‘The names revealed can then be researched in newspapers of the time and at the National Archive, where records of wills, births and deaths will reveal further information.’
    • ‘It's also important to draw up wills to clarify legal custody in the case of unexpected death.’
    • ‘The couple have been to Christchurch twice before and spent a great deal of time on the last visit researching marriages and death records, wills and shipping records.’
    • ‘Save in the case of those rash testators who make their own wills, the proper transmission of property from one generation to the next is dependent upon the due discharge by solicitors of their duties.’
    • ‘He was accused of deliberately increasing the dosage of opiates used as pain relief in order to end the lives of patients who had left him money in their wills.’
    • ‘There must be many people even now who have such an agreement with their doctor and I would like to see such informal contracts accepted as legal, in the same way in which I believe codicils to wills are.’
    • ‘They make a big thing about their reliance on benefactors, and every ten years or so, they invite their ex-students back for a nice slap-up meal and a bit of a speech to remind us how to leave them money in our wills.’
    • ‘Not long after that, we found out that Mom and Dad had left us all a lot of money in their wills.’
    • ‘There is a widely held view among solicitors that do-it-yourself wills only result in making lawyers richer.’
    testament, last will and testament, last wishes
    View synonyms


  • 1formal, literary Intend, desire, or wish (something) to happen.

    ‘he was doing what the saint willed’
    [with clause] ‘marijuana, dope, grass—call it what you will’
    • ‘To save the world, in this understanding, God willed the violent death of God's only beloved son.’
    • ‘How, then, do we deal with the ‘outside’, with new things, the threat of somebody who wills our destruction?’
    • ‘May we be justice minded and peace-filled just as God wills it.’
    • ‘He attempts to refuse them passage, but Virgil reminds him that in Hell what God wills is done.’
    • ‘From another angle, however, it is possible to argue that his premature death was willed by the state.’
    • ‘Is it the case that a spell will not work if the person casting it consciously desires or wills the outcome?’
    • ‘Not for gain or glory, not for riches or immortality, but because my God wills it and that makes it right.’
    • ‘He chooses to do so not because he seeks to suffer or because God wills his death, but as the means to life for God's people.’
    • ‘And lastly, regarding the Constitution, the Conservative government will not make any changes unless the democratic process wills it.’
    • ‘But can empire be thrust upon a nation, whether it wills it or not?’
    decree, order, ordain, command, direct
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object and infinitive]Make or try to make (someone) do something or (something) happen by the exercise of mental powers.
      ‘reluctantly he willed himself to turn and go back’
      ‘she stared into the fog, willing it to clear’
      • ‘It is not terribly difficult to create in people the feeling that they have willed events that were not actually under their control.’
      • ‘Edward allowed himself one gulp as he entered the chamber, and then willed his body not to betray his nervousness.’
      • ‘The Aussie admits that he left Essex on bad terms with several players, and they were surrounding him yesterday and willing him to fail.’
      • ‘He willed death to come quickly, with every ounce of strength he still possessed.’
      • ‘I can't help muttering under my breath, though, willing the hawk on.’
      • ‘I never imagined my sister would not reappear when I willed her to.’
      • ‘Apart from the stern-faced usherettes willing us out of their establishment, we were the only people left in the auditorium.’
      • ‘I know how painful it was for the whole family to see her like this, and in the end it was a case of willing her to go, so that her pain would end.’
      • ‘We sat by Charlie's bed for five days, just willing him to wake up.’
      • ‘And don't forget that it is one of the most popular games of all time, so there will be more fans willing the movie not to fail.’
      • ‘There was a large throng willing him on to success.’
      • ‘Everyone was willing her to win a fortune and she did not let us down.’
      • ‘I just sat and nodded, not really understanding the full significance of this issue, willing her to go on.’
      • ‘But even as I willed my weary body into sleep, my mind did not cease to race with thoughts.’
      • ‘With only one weekend left until Christmas, the major retailers are willing us all to indulge in a last-minute splurge of spending.’
      • ‘The crowd were willing him on but the goal never came.’
      • ‘It was even more disappointing yesterday because we could feel the fans getting behind us and willing us to win.’
      • ‘I feel that all the people who know and love me are willing me to be better and get well and take control.’
      • ‘I stood at the bar and stared at the barman, willing him to come to me next.’
      • ‘I continued to stare at him, willing him to ask me out, but he never did.’
  • 2Bequeath something to (someone) by the terms of one's will.

    • ‘In Renaissance Venice wives were free to bequeath their dowries to whom they willed, whereas in Florence they were required by law to leave them to their children or husband.’
    • ‘To Bentham, who willed his own body to the University of London, it was perfectly just to put the bodies of paupers to scientific use as a means of repaying their public debt.’
    • ‘If I should die before he is freed, the case will be willed to another attorney.’
    • ‘He willed the farm to Annie before lapsing into delirium and feverishly mumbling his last words in the Maori he knew so well.’
    • ‘And unlike Graham, who named Protas as her sole heir, Balanchine willed his ballets to a number of heirs, including some of the ballerinas who created the roles in those ballets.’
    • ‘Since all the peoples of the world are his heirs, and since presumably he willed the land to his heirs, then all the people of the earth own it.’
    bequeath, leave, give, hand down, hand on, pass on, settle on, make over, transfer, gift
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1[with clause]Leave specified instructions in one's will.
      ‘he willed that his body be given to the hospital’
      • ‘She had willed that after her death parts of her body be put on display or sent to those responsible for abusing animals.’
      • ‘When he died, he willed that all he had hidden down here be buried with him.’


  • at will

    • At whatever time or in whatever way one pleases.

      ‘it can be molded and shaped at will’
      ‘he was shoved around at will’
      • ‘The pack was very powerful and were cutting holes through their Galway opposition at will.’
      • ‘Few, if any, other counties possess such strong forwards who can switch positions at will.’
      • ‘Anyway, I am beginning to settle into the house, now that I can enter and leave at will.’
      • ‘My freedom to roam at will conflicts with the farmer's need to make a living and to rear the crops and livestock we all need to exist.’
      • ‘Since it can shut down oil production at will, it is a fight the union is likely to win.’
      • ‘That is why they give awards for acting, not for crying or laughing at will.’
      • ‘Suddenly United found themselves dominating possession and creating opportunities at will.’
      • ‘Everyone in this film is going slowly insane, doing drugs, and killing at will.’
      • ‘If officials can take away peasants' land at will, what other civic rights would be left to them?’
      • ‘But those with shopping to do and time budgets need to be able to put their buys in the car boot and return to the shops at will.’
      as one pleases, as one wishes, as one thinks fit, to suit oneself, at one's pleasure, at one's discretion, at one's inclination, at whim
      View synonyms
  • have a will of one's own

    • Have a willful character.

      • ‘Sometimes, whenever we try bringing back the past in our presence, we fail as if our emotions have a will of their own.’
      • ‘She needed to be strong, and have a will of her own.’
      • ‘But I don't have it down to an exact science, and sometimes they sort of have a will of their own.’
      • ‘One would almost be tempted to think that we have a will of our own.’
      • ‘Animals have always been put into a special category for the purpose of civil liability, for, unlike other chattels which may be the instrument in the commission of a tort, animals have a will of their own.’
      • ‘This gentleman, Valmont, he comes and he goes as he pleases: has a will of his own.’
      • ‘She had no idea what she would do then, or where she would go, but the thoughts she had of walking away from all this seemed to grow, to have a will of their own.’
      • ‘Annoyed that her thoughts seemed to have a will of their own - something that rarely happened - Sahara flopped backwards into the center of her thick down comforter and closed her eyes in concentration.’
      • ‘Man was created to be free, to have a will of his own, and to make decisions about right vs. wrong.’
      • ‘But Curzon had a will of his own, and servant of the crown or no, he always got his way.’
  • have one's will

    • archaic Obtain what one wants.

      • ‘At the end of her tale, she delivers a bit of wisdom that has yet to be improved upon: When it comes to love, ‘A woman will have her will.’’
      • ‘Not only have the competitors had to lay down their gloves, as it were, to manipulate their own happy ending, but neither has emerged the clear victor, the comic hero who ‘has his will.’’
  • if you will

    • Said when politely inviting a listener or reader to do something or when using an unusual or fanciful term.

      ‘imagine, if you will, a typical silversmith's shop’
      • ‘What is your sense of the depth of the problem, if you will, and what can be done?’
      • ‘Consider for a moment, if you will, the exquisitely delicate hues of this astoundingly lovely tunicate.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, that you have the magical power to see two scenes ahead in a film.’
      • ‘So with America firmly in mind, consider the final news item if you will.’
      • ‘Allow me, if you will, to give you a random sample of the goods, translated from the original German.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, the ruins of an ancient abbey set in a secluded valley on the Kent / Sussex border.’
      • ‘Imagine this scene if you will: a married couple in the throws of passion is interrupted by a man in a white mask.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the concept were to be transferred to racing.’
      • ‘Just give it a try, if you will, and let me know how it goes in our next session.’
      • ‘Enjoy with me then, if you will, a fabulous piece of creative writing.’
  • where there's a will there's a way

    • proverb Determination will overcome any obstacle.

      • ‘Rumour has it tickets are tight, but where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘It's complicated, and there's also tax implications, but where there's a will there's a way!’
      • ‘It seems to me that in politics, as in life, where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘But, as with anything else, where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘Take the man but don't lose hope, where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘The problem for the fixtures board might be finding an alternative but where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘There would be a problem playing all those games but where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘As they say, where there's a will there's a way, and if anything can be read into Sunday's game, and its scintillating finish, the will is certainly strong in Galway and Kerry.’
      • ‘I know it will be difficult but where there's a will there's a way.’
      • ‘This isn't easy, but as Jeff shows us, where there's a will there's a way.’
  • with the best will in the world

    • However good one's intentions (used to imply that success in a particular undertaking is unlikely although desired)

      • ‘I don't think, with the best will in the world, that the staff are going to be able to clean it all up.’
      • ‘Even with the best will in the world, the shortage of intensive care nurses will not be fixed overnight.’
      • ‘But, with the best will in the world, we can't be in two places at once.’
      • ‘Understandably, they want their children to learn about their own pasts and cultural traditions in a way that, with the best will in the world, cannot be taught in a Scottish school.’
      • ‘I have older children at home and even with the best will in the world, it is not always easy to find the time.’
      • ‘As it stands, the police are doing a tremendous job, but with the best will in the world, they don't have the legal expertise of lawyers.’
      • ‘We are working flat out with all interested parties to try to make this work, but with the best will in the world, it will not be ready by September.’
      • ‘Even with the best will in the world, however, not all mentoring programmes work according to plan.’
      • ‘And with the best will in the world, it is doubtful that the number of spaces will be increased so greatly as to compensate for this.’
      • ‘Against this it must be realised that accommodation is in very short supply and, with the best will in the world, we cannot always comply with every request.’
  • with a will

    • Energetically and resolutely.

      • ‘Then with a will, he forced himself to his feet and ran off.’
      • ‘It's easy work here on the flat, and he sets to with a will.’
      • ‘Paul stops scanning the banks for signs of wildlife and paddles with a will.’
      • ‘He found him eventually and saw them fighting, both hating each other with a fiery passion and both with a will.’
      • ‘His stomach snarled as he tore into it with a will.’
      • ‘The brothers ate and drank with a will, and joked quietly between bites and gulps.’
      • ‘All had their parts to play and they did it with a will.’
      • ‘But they battled with a will and defended sensibly to deny them a clear-cut opportunity.’
      • ‘He pulled down the overhead screen with a will and set up his visual.’
      • ‘On the following day conditions were better and everyone set about striking camp with a will.’


Old English willa (noun), willian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wil, German Wille (nouns), also to will and the adverb well.