- done, shown, used, etc., maliciously or unjustifiably: a wanton attack; wanton cruelty.
- deliberate and without motive or provocation; uncalled-for; headstrong; willful: Why jeopardize your career in such a wanton way?
- without regard for what is right, just, humane, etc.; careless; reckless: a wanton attacker of religious convictions.
- sexually lawless or unrestrained; loose; lascivious; lewd: wanton behavior.
- extravagantly or excessively luxurious, as a person, manner of living, or style.
- luxuriant, as vegetation.
- sportive or frolicsome, as children or young animals.
- having free play: wanton breezes; a wanton brook.
- a wanton or lascivious person, especially a woman.
verb (used without object)
- to behave in a wanton manner; become wanton.
verb (used with object)
- to squander, especially in pleasure (often followed by away): to wanton away one’s inheritance.
- dissolute, licentious, or immoral
- without motive, provocation, or justificationwanton destruction
- maliciously and unnecessarily cruel or destructive
- unrestrainedwanton spending
- archaic, or poetic playful or capricious
- archaic (of vegetation, etc) luxuriant or superabundant
- a licentious person, esp a woman
- a playful or capricious person
- (intr) to behave in a wanton manner
- (tr) to squander or waste
n.“one who is ill-behaved,” especially (but not originally) “lascivious, lewd person,” c.1400, from wanton (adj.). v.1580s, from wanton (n.). Related: Wantoned; wantoning. adj.c.1300, wan-towen, “resistant to control; willful,” from Middle English privative prefix wan- “wanting, lacking” (from Old English wan “wanting;” see wane) + togen, past participle of teon “to train, discipline;” literally “to pull, draw,” from Proto-Germanic *teuhan (cf. Old High German ziohan “to pull;” see tug). The basic notion perhaps is “ill-bred, poorly brought up;” cf. German ungezogen “ill-bred, rude, haughty,” literally “unpulled.” As Flies to wanton Boyes are we to th’ Gods, They kill vs for their sport. [Shakespeare, “Lear,” 1605] Especially of sexual indulgence from late 14c. The only English survival of a once-common Germanic negating prefix still active in Dutch (cf. wanbestuur “misgovernment,” wanluid “discordant sound”), German (wahn-), etc. Related: Wantonly; wantonness.