Definition of wanton in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈwänt(ə)n/


1(Of a cruel or violent action) deliberate and unprovoked: sheer wanton vandalism
More example sentences
  • Both acts of wanton destruction were deliberately aimed at symbolically injuring the self-esteem of the targeted victims, beside tremendous loss of innocent lives.
  • 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.
deliberate, willful, malicious, spiteful, wicked, cruel;
gratuitous, unprovoked, motiveless, arbitrary, groundless, unjustifiable, needless, unnecessary, uncalled for, senseless, pointless, purposeless, meaningless, empty, random;
2(Especially of a woman) sexually immodest or promiscuous.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • Together they roam the streets, picking up prostitutes and other willing, wanton woman to calm their near-desperate need for the female form.
  • Yet we never understand why she lives her life as such a wanton woman.
promiscuous, immoral, immodest, indecent, shameless, unchaste, fast, loose, impure, abandoned, lustful, lecherous, lascivious, libidinous, licentious, dissolute, debauched, degenerate, corrupt, whorish, disreputable
3Growing profusely; luxuriant: where wanton ivy twines
3.1Lively; playful: a wanton fawn
More example sentences
  • 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.




[no object] archaic or literary
1Play; frolic.
2Behave in a sexually immodest or promiscuous way.
Example sentences
  • She, who had not come to wanton, used a borrowed wantonness as the instrument of her devotion and courage.



Pronunciation: /ˈwänt(ə)nnəs/
Example sentences
  • They recognize Lucy: ‘The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.’
  • Here, once again, the opulence of the city puts its citizens under enormous pressures to capitulate to a life style of wantonness and shameless disregard.
  • In Imamura's eyes, all this wicked wantonness is as graphic in its disgust and scandalous at its heart as hardcore images or vulgar stag reels.


Middle English wantowen 'rebellious, lacking discipline', from wan- 'badly' + Old English togen 'trained' (related to team and tow1).

  • The spelling in Middle English was wantowen ‘rebellious, lacking discipline’, from wan- ‘badly’ and Old English togen ‘trained’ (related to team and tow (Old English)).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wan·ton

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.