There are 2 main definitions of will in English:

Share this entry

will 1

Pronunciation: /wil/
Pronunciation: /wəl/

modal verb (third singular present will; past would /wo͝od/ /wəd/)

1Expressing the future tense: you will regret it when you are older
More example sentences
  • Soon there will be bitter regret at all the public land being squandered irredeemably.
  • Now that she has settled into the British way of life the move to Bradford is one she will never regret.
  • Alcohol loosens tongues and will allow you to say things you will truly regret later.
1.1Expressing a strong intention or assertion about the future: come what may, I will succeed
More example sentences
  • We are a very strong team and we will turn it around.
  • If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.
  • 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.
2Expressing inevitable events: accidents will happen
More example sentences
  • It is a necessary fact that animals will die and suffer in the pursuit of human betterment.
  • We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.
  • There will always be different trends of opinion in any large, growing socialist party.
tend to, have a tendency to, are bound to, do, are going to, must
3Expressing a request: will you stop here, please
More example sentences
  • By the way, you will stop me when I get a title graphic up that everyone likes won't you?
3.1Expressing desire, consent, or willingness: will you have a cognac?
More example sentences
  • Neither man will give his consent for the use of the embryos, which is required by law.
  • He is keen to cater to all and if requested will happily search out brands he doesn't already stock.
  • Bury is not hosting any official events, but will help groups to organise parties.
want, wish, please, see/think fit, think best, like, choose, prefer
4Expressing facts about ability or capacity: a rock so light that it will float on water your tank will hold about 26 gallons
More example sentences
  • The way we choose to interpret and perceive stares will influence our ability to cope with them.
  • There are shareware programs that will generate tones of frequencies you specify.
  • They will also float if you drop one overboard and you can scoop it up with a fish net.
5Expressing habitual behavior: she will dance for hours
More example sentences
  • The strongest animals will never allow themselves to be captured and put in cages.
  • All I have to do is walk down the street and kids and adults will stop and gawk at me.
  • They will do this at a certain time of day and the great thing is to break them of the habit.
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
More example sentences
  • The anger felt in the Square Mile will probably not be comprehensible to him, but it is real.
  • 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 the differences in use between will and shall, see shall (usage).


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'.

Words that rhyme with will

bill, Brazil, brill, Camille, chill, cookchill, dill, distil (US distill), downhill, drill, Edgehill, Estoril, fill, freewill, frill, fulfil (US fulfill), Gill, goodwill, grill, grille, hill, ill, instil, kill, krill, mil, mill, nil, Phil, pill, quadrille, quill, rill, Seville, shill, shrill, sill, skill, spadille, spill, squill, still, stock-still, swill, thill, thrill, till, trill, twill, until, uphill

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: will

Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of will in English:

Share this entry

will 2

Pronunciation: /wil/


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 an act of will
More example sentences
  • It became this battle of wills between the two sides.
  • 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.
  • If he is determined to make this a battle of wills, the outcome could be very messy.
1.1 (also willpower) Control deliberately exerted to do something or to restrain one’s own impulses: a stupendous effort of will
More example sentences
  • I am proud of myself; I have managed to fulfill a feat of endurance and willpower and maintain control over my body.
  • It took all my willpower to restrain from running to the harbor and instead follow Mr. Kenton at a swift pace.
  • The man looked to be using every ounce of willpower he possessed to restrain himself.
1.2A deliberate or fixed desire or intention: Jane had not wanted them to stay against their will [with infinitive]: the will to live
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Artistic talent is very often present, but the will to express this talent may be slow to appear.
desire, wish, preference, inclination, intention, intent, volition
1.3The thing that one desires or ordains: the disaster was God’s will
More example sentences
  • 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;
decree, command
2A legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one’s money and property after one’s death.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • And those jurisdictions have also eliminated discrimination in the areas of property division, wills, stamp duty and hospital visitation rights.
  • In her classes, she pestered professors with questions about how the legal topic in question - wills and trusts, property law - might apply to pets.
testament, last will and testament, bequest


[with object]
1chiefly formal 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
More example sentences
  • Is it the case that a spell will not work if the person casting it consciously desires or wills the outcome?
  • From another angle, however, it is possible to argue that his premature death was willed by the state.
  • To save the world, in this understanding, God willed the violent death of God's only beloved son.
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
More example sentences
  • We sat by Charlie's bed for five days, just willing him to wake up.
  • The crowd were willing him on but the goal never came.
  • With only one weekend left until Christmas, the major retailers are willing us all to indulge in a last-minute splurge of spending.
2 (will something to) Bequeath something to (someone) by the terms of one’s will.
Example sentences
  • If I should die before he is freed, the case will be willed to another attorney.
  • 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.
  • He willed the farm to Annie before lapsing into delirium and feverishly mumbling his last words in the Maori he knew so well.
bequeath, leave, hand down, pass on, settle on;
Law  devise
2.1 [with clause] Leave specified instructions in one’s will: he willed that his body be given to the hospital
More example sentences
  • When he died, he willed that all he had hidden down here be buried with him.
  • She had willed that after her death parts of her body be put on display or sent to those responsible for abusing animals.



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
More example sentences
  • Everyone in this film is going slowly insane, doing drugs, and killing at will.
  • Few, if any, other counties possess such strong forwards who can switch positions at will.
  • That is why they give awards for acting, not for crying or laughing at will.
as one pleases, as one thinks fit, to suit oneself, at whim

have a will of one's own

Have a willful character.
Example sentences
  • One would almost be tempted to think that we have a will of our own.
  • But I don't have it down to an exact science, and sometimes they sort of 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.

have one's will

archaic Obtain what one wants.
Example sentences
  • 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
More example sentences
  • Imagine, if you will, the ruins of an ancient abbey set in a secluded valley on the Kent / Sussex border.
  • Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the concept were to be transferred to racing.
  • So with America firmly in mind, consider the final news item if you will.

where there's a will there's a way

proverb Determination will overcome any obstacle.
Example sentences
  • I know it will be difficult 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.

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).
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.

with a will

Energetically and resolutely.
Example sentences
  • On the following day conditions were better and everyone set about striking camp with a will.
  • All had their parts to play and they did it with a will.
  • Paul stops scanning the banks for signs of wildlife and paddles with a will.



Example sentences
  • Is it possible to achieve the state of will-lessness and unconditional confidence in the environment?
  • This requires the capacity to rise above the opposing tendencies of willfulness coming from the right side of the Tree and will-lessness from the left.
  • When one lives with the view that outside forces are determining their reality, a sense of will-lessness, powerlessness arises.


Example sentences
  • Then again, I could be way off, because I think determinists and free willers alike are both nuts.


Old English willa (noun), willian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wil, German Wille (nouns), also to will1 and the adverb well1.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: will

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.