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From Middle English wantonnesse, wantonesse, wantounesse, wantownesse, equivalent to wanton +‎ -ness.


wantonness (usually uncountable, plural wantonnesses)

  1. (uncountable) The state or characteristic of being wanton; recklessness, especially as represented in lascivious or other excessive behavior.
    • c. 1597, William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act IV scene ii[1]:
      The spirit of wantonness is, sure, scared out of him: if the devil have him not in fee-simple, with fine and recovery, he will never, I think, in the way of waste, attempt us again.
    • 1624 (first performance), John Fletcher, Rvle a VVife and Have a VVife. A Comoedy. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] Leonard Lichfield [], published 1640, OCLC 960101958, Act II, scene [ii], page 16:
      A wantonneſſe in wealth, methinks I agree not with, / Tis ſuch a trouble to be married too, / And have a thouſand things of great importance, / Jewells and plates, and fooleries moleſt mee, / To have a mans brains whimſied with his wealth: []
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, Dracula, ch. 16:
      The sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.
  2. (countable, dated) A particular wanton act.
    • 1882, John Gorham Palfrey, History of New England during the Stuart Dynasty, Little Brown (Boston), v. 3, p. 366:
      These were simply the wantonnesses of a dishonest man.