Definition of wayward in English:



  • Difficult to control or predict because of wilful or perverse behaviour.

    ‘a wayward adolescent’
    figurative ‘his wayward emotions’
    • ‘I flatter myself by thinking that some wayward janitor refuses to wash it off because he agrees with the sentiment.’
    • ‘Anyone who has had to manage wayward or unruly livestock will know that the easiest way to do so is with food.’
    • ‘Spacey plays a man involved with a wayward woman, a selfish, drunken slutty type.’
    • ‘Later he was even prepared to rule that wayward parents should be sent on special parenting courses to teach them how to behave better.’
    • ‘The shamans believe this was caused by a wayward spirit who reneged on their deal.’
    • ‘He confessed that he had been fed up with the wayward habits of his elder brother and that was the reason he killed him.’
    • ‘Now, he shoulders much of the blame for Daniel's wayward behaviour.’
    • ‘Teachers should also take a lead in helping correct the misconception of the now wayward pupils.’
    • ‘He then had to deal with the increasingly wayward behaviour of his younger daughter, Joanna.’
    • ‘Many religious texts legitimise keeping wayward women under control through the use of physical violence.’
    • ‘This was supposed to be a feel-good story about a mission to save a wayward cow.’
    • ‘Still, she did a great job of taking the media spotlight off her wayward brother, Michael.’
    • ‘Many believe that the law will destroy efforts to reform a wayward youth.’
    • ‘Your wayward attitude and ill-conceived policies have done great harm to this country.’
    • ‘However, in 1998, I changed my wayward behaviour and, within a few months, closed all but one account.’
    • ‘I liked it better when it was a home for wayward boys and girls!’
    • ‘Three out of four New Zealanders want judges given the power to start cracking down on the parents of wayward children.’
    • ‘She takes the rap for her wayward brother, going to jail for his crimes.’
    • ‘A fabulous young woman leading a project for wayward pupils explained how difficult it was for boys in her community.’
    • ‘His threat, seen as a ploy to call wayward allies to heel, prompted a rousing statement of support yesterday.’
    • ‘But now that marriage has gone out of fashion in Britain, our young men are no longer growing out of their wayward behaviour.’
    wilful, self-willed, headstrong, stubborn, obstinate, obdurate, perverse, contrary, rebellious, defiant, uncooperative, refractory, recalcitrant, unruly, wild, ungovernable, unmanageable, unpredictable, capricious, whimsical, fickle, inconstant, changeable, erratic, intractable, difficult, impossible, intolerable, unbearable, fractious, disobedient, insubordinate, undisciplined
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Late Middle English: shortening of obsolete awayward ‘turned away’; compare with froward.