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Related to willful: willfully, wilful, willful ignorance


Intentional; not accidental; voluntary; designed.

There is no precise definition of the term willful because its meaning largely depends on the context in which it appears. It generally signifies a sense of the intentional as opposed to the inadvertent, the deliberate as opposed to the unplanned, and the voluntary as opposed to the compelled. After centuries of court cases, it has no single meaning, whether as an adjective (willful) or an adverb (willfully).

Statutes and case law have adapted the term willful to the particular circumstances of action and inaction peculiar to specific areas of the law, including tort law, criminal law, workers' compensation, and Unemployment Compensation. A willful violation, for example, may mean a deliberate intent to violate the law, an intent to perform an act that the law forbids, an intent to refrain from performing an act that the law requires, an indifference to whether or not action or inaction violates the law, or some other variant.

In criminal-law statutes, willfully ordinarily means with a bad purpose or criminal intent, particularly if the proscribed act is mala in se (an evil in itself, intrinsically wrong) or involves moral turpitude. For example, willful murder is the unlawful killing of another individual without any excuse or Mitigating Circumstances. If the forbidden act is not wrong in itself, such as driving over the speed limit, willfully is used to mean intentionally, purposefully, or knowingly.

Under workers' compensation acts, willful misconduct by an employee means that he intentionally performed an act with the knowledge that it was likely to result in serious injuries or with reckless disregard of its probable consequences. A finding of "willful misconduct" prevents the employee from being awarded compensation for his injuries.

Under unemployment compensation laws, an employee who is fired on willful misconduct grounds is not entitled to recover unemployment compensation benefits. Common examples of such willful misconduct include excessive absenteeism, habitual lateness, deliberate violations of an employer's rules and regulations, reporting for work in an intoxicated condition, and drinking alcoholic beverages while on the job.


adj. referring to acts which are intentional, conscious, and directed toward achieving a purpose. Some willful conduct which has wrongful or unfortunate results is considered "hardheaded," "stubborn" and even "malicious." Example: "The defendant's attack on his neighbor was willful." (See: willfully)


adjective conscious, contemplated, deliberate, designed, inflexible, intended, intentional, intractable, intransigent, obdurate, obstinate, obstinatus, pertinax, planned, premeditated, purposed, purposeful, restive, retractory, studied, tenacious, uncompromising, unconstrained, unyielding, volitional, volitive, voluntary
Associated concepts: willful acts
See also: arbitrary and capricious, deliberate, disobedient, express, froward, inexorable, inflexible, intentional, intractable, obdurate, pertinacious, premeditated, recalcitrant, restive, spontaneous, unbending, uncontrollable, unruly, unyielding, voluntary
References in periodicals archive ?
She describes the willful child as the child that is of the wrong bent, physically and mentally driven astray by their (impulsive) willful desires: "Eliminating willfulness could be understood as a method of negation: a way of stopping a certain kind of subject from coming into existence.
Consequently, the Fifth Circuit may well become the first Federal Court of Appeals to rule on this important evidentiary issue regarding civil penalties for willful FBAR violations.
tortfeasor or one guilty of a willful act, the fines have also been
The Seagate decision immediately changed this dynamic by significantly raising the bar on the types of cases warranting increased damages based on allegations of willful infringement.
53) As discussed below, the level of intent required may involve some notion of willful behavior.
The IRS considers a "Leaver" to be willful in their actions.
As further evidence to support a finding of willful blindness, the
One natural interpretation of that term links it to the defendant's mental state: willful breaches are knowing or intentional breaches.
Civil penalties for willful violations would be raised from a maximum of $70,000 to $120,000, and fines for serious violations would be increased from $7,000 to $12,000.
discovery of willful or reckless acts or omissions increasing the hazard insured against;
Not so with the risk of damages for willful infringement.