Wanton describes something excessive, uncontrolled and sometimes even cruel. The principal sees a food fight as a wanton act of vandalism done with wanton disregard for the rules, but the kids might just see it as fun.

Wanton comes from the Old English wan- "lacking" and togen "to train, discipline," in other words, "lacking in discipline." Wanton extravagance is excessive and uncontrolled, whereas a wanton act of terrorism is random and intentionally cruel. Sometimes in older novels, you will see wanton used as a disapproving term to describe a sexually active person, particularly a woman, a usage that is considered old-fashioned today.

Definitions of wanton

n a lewd or lascivious person

light-o'-love, light-of-love
a woman inconstant in love
Type of:
a person who enjoys sensuality

adj occurring without motivation or provocation

motiveless, unprovoked
without motivation

adj casual and unrestrained in sexual behavior

wanton behavior”
easy, light, loose, promiscuous, sluttish
not chaste

v indulge in a carefree or voluptuous way of life

Type of:
lead a certain kind of life; live in a certain style

v become extravagant; indulge (oneself) luxuriously

Type of:
consume, squander, ware, waste
spend extravagantly

v waste time; spend one's time idly or inefficiently

piddle, piddle away, trifle, wanton away
Type of:
drop, expend, spend
pay out

v engage in amorous play

Type of:
butterfly, chat up, coquet, coquette, dally, flirt, mash, philander, romance
talk or behave amorously, without serious intentions

v behave extremely cruelly and brutally

Type of:
act, behave, do
behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself

v spend wastefully

wanton one's money away”
trifle away, wanton away
Type of:
drop, expend, spend
pay out

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