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From Middle English selfe-willed, selwillyd, equivalent to self- +‎ willed. Compare Middle English onwille, anewil (selfwilled, stubborn), from Old English ānwille (literally one-willed, one's own-willed, self-willed).


self-willed (comparative more self-willed, superlative most self-willed)

  1. Obstinate; strong-minded; unyielding to the desires, concern or opinions of others.
    • 1815, Jane Austen, Emma, volume II, chapter 11:
      Emma perceived that the nature of his gallantry was a little self-willed, and that he would rather oppose than lose the pleasure of dancing with her; but she took the compliment, and forgave the rest. Had she intended ever to marry him, it might have been worth while to pause and consider, and try to understand the value of his preference, and the character of his temper; but for all the purposes of their acquaintance, he was quite amiable enough.
    He was so self-willed that he refused to do anything that did not grant instant satisfaction or direction.
  2. Possessing self-will; determined to pursue one's own desires or adhere to one's own opinion..
    The idea of self-willed machines, which could decide to take over the world, scares all the people smart enough to create such devices.

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