Definition of wanton in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwɒntən/


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, wilful, malicious, malevolent, spiteful, vicious, wicked, evil, cruel;
unprovoked, unmotivated, motiveless, arbitrary, groundless, unjustifiable, unjustified, needless, unnecessary, uncalled for, gratuitous, senseless, pointless, purposeless, aimless, useless, meaningless, empty, vacuous
2(Especially of a woman) sexually immodest or promiscuous: her cheeks burned as she recalled how forward she had been, how wanton
More 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, 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
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.


A sexually immodest or promiscuous woman: she’d behaved like a wanton


[no object] archaic or literary
1Play; frolic: figurative the sea breeze wantoned among the quivering leaves of the chestnut tree
2Behave in a sexually immodest or promiscuous way: women who have wantoned with suitors
More example sentences
  • She, who had not come to wanton, used a borrowed wantonness as the instrument of her devotion and courage.



Pronunciation: /ˈwɒntənnəs/
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

Line breaks: wan¦ton

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