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 someone viewed as promiscuous, a usage that is considered old-fashioned today.

Definitions of wanton
  1. noun
    a lewd or lascivious person
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    light-o'-love, light-of-love
    a woman inconstant in love
    type of:
    a person who enjoys sensuality
  2. adjective
    occurring without motivation or provocation
    synonyms: motiveless, unprovoked
    without motivation
  3. adjective
    casual and unrestrained in sexual behavior
    wanton behavior”
    synonyms: easy, light, loose, promiscuous, sluttish
    not chaste
  4. adjective
    not restrained or controlled
    synonyms: incontinent, unbridled, unchecked, uncurbed, ungoverned
    not subject to restraint
  5. adjective
    playfully mean
  6. verb
    indulge in a carefree or voluptuous way of life
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    type of:
    lead a certain kind of life; live in a certain style
  7. verb
    become extravagant; indulge (oneself) luxuriously
    synonyms: luxuriate
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    type of:
    consume, squander, ware, waste
    spend extravagantly
  8. verb
    waste time; spend one's time idly or inefficiently
  9. verb
    engage in amorous play
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    type of:
    butterfly, chat up, coquet, coquette, dally, flirt, mash, philander, romance
    talk or behave amorously, without serious intentions
  10. verb
    behave extremely cruelly and brutally
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    type of:
    act, behave, do
    behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself
  11. verb
    spend wastefully
    wanton one's money away”
    synonyms: trifle away, wanton away
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    type of:
    drop, expend, spend
    pay out
Word Family

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