Meaning of WILL in English


I. _wəl, _(ə)l, (|)wil verb

( past would _wəd, _(ə)d, (|)wu̇d ; or archaic second singular wouldst _wə]dzt, (|)wu̇], ]dst, ]tst ; or would·est |wu̇də̇st ; present singular & plural will or archaic second singular wilt _wəlt, (|)wilt)

Etymology: Middle English wille, will, wil wish, wishes, desire, desires, intend, intends (1st & 3d singular present indicative, past wolde, wold, infin. willen ), from Old English wile, wille (past wolde, infin. wyllan ); akin to Old High German willu wish, will, wili wishes, will (infin. wellen, wollen ), Old Norse vilja wish, will, vill wishes, will (infin. vilja ), velja to choose, Gothic wiljau wish, will, wili wishes, will (infin. wiljan ), waljan to choose, Latin velle to wish, Greek (Doric) lēn, Sanskrit vṛņoti he chooses, likes

transitive verb

: to be inclined to : choose

call it what you will

— often used in the form would with an object clause

would that I were young again

I would to heaven I had never seen him

verbal auxiliary

1. — used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal

the immortal gods will have no part in this affair — John Buchan

perverse set of facial muscles that will not, like those of other people, interpret the language of his soul — Emily Brontë

how long will we put up with the … refusal of refrigerators to fit — Pencil Points

could find no one who would take the job

if we will all do our best, we shall succeed

will you please stop that racket

2. — used to express frequent, customary, or habitual action or natural tendency or disposition

has a quick temper and will get angry over nothing

would fall asleep reading his newspaper

will sit for hours watching the sea

will work one day and loaf the next


a. — used to express simple futurity

much like a delayed action bomb that will not explode for half a generation — C.P.Taft

cherish the belief that some day a perfect society will banish evil — Crane Brinton

tomorrow morning I will wake up in this first-class hotel suite — Tennessee Williams

have not employed it and probably never will — R.W.Bliss

some other time we will say what it was — Notes & Queries

list … will be sent as usual for a stamped and addressed envelope — May L. Becker

cannot foresee what will happen, but a study of past changes may give us an idea as to what may happen — C.E.P.Brooks

problem of corruption and morality will remain very real and earnest — Estes Kefauver

b. — used to express simple action or intention without conscious reference to future time

quite a famous view … a good many people will stop and take pictures of it — G.W.Brace

we will now illustrate the procedure in detail — Z.S.Harris

I will give you two propositions for the year 1778: a little learning was a dangerous thing, and so was being an American — A.W.Griswold

4. — used to express capability or sufficiency

square pegs will not fit in round holes

this will do if there is nothing better

back seat will hold three passengers

might go for a tramp somewhere. My finances will just run to it — John Buchan

this will serve to illustrate the kind of problem — F.N.Robinson

found that his old rubbers would not go over his new shoes

three yards of cloth will make a skirt and jacket

5. — used to express probability or recognition and often equivalent to the simple verb

that will be the milkman at the back door

this house with the green shutters will be theirs

she would have been about twenty when she married

discover a plant growing and clinging close to the rocks. This will be the walking fern or walking leaf — Anne Dorrance

glass that hides the pendulum will often display a fine example of primitive painting — Ellwood Kirby


a. — used to express determination, insistence, persistence, or willfulness

I have made up my mind to go and go I will

for some perverse reason he will put his worst foot forward

had what the doctors will call influenze, as though there were only one form of it — Lord Dunsany

police are excellent fellows, but … they will hare off after motive, which is a matter for psychologists — Dorothy Sayers

b. — used to express inevitability

accidents will happen

what will be, will be

murder will out

7. — used to express a command, exhortation, or injunction

you will do as I say, at once

color arrangements will be as prescribed in instructions issued by the Commanding General — Army Regulations & Ordinances

proposing … that all disputes … will be referred to an impartial tribunal — T.F.Reynolds

with his petition the applicant will produce the evidence on which he relies — F.J.Grant

intransitive verb

1. : have a wish or desire : be inclined or disposed : be pleased

Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean — Mt 8:2 (Authorized Version)

for better, for worse, and whether we will or no — advt

factors for which man is responsible and which he can control or change if he will — L.A.White

2. archaic : will go

thither will I then — Sir Walter Scott

- if you will

- will I, nill I

II. ˈwil noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English wille, will, wile, wil, from Old English willa, will; akin to Old High German willo, willio will, Old Norse vili, vil, Gothic wilja will, wiljan to wish — more at will I

1. : desire , wish ; especially : a desire to act in a particular way:

a. : disposition , inclination , liking

my poverty, but not my will , consents — Shakespeare

not, sir, from want of will , for she is docile and obedient — W.H.Hudson †1922

primary determinant is the claims of the parties, their desires and wills — Samuel Alexander

responsible artist has no will to confuse emotion and thinking — René Wellek & Austin Warren

often : desire or inclination to act in a particular way in contrast to means or ability

had a strong will to succeed but little capacity

where there's a will there's a way

perceived that granted the will they could link their abilities to the new world — Times Literary Supplement

with the best will in the world … could not live forever — Max Peacock

proof of their capacity and will to watch and warn and purge — B.N.Cardozo

b. : fleshy or carnal desire : appetite , passion

a fear of hunger and death, and a will for food and springtime and life — Emma Hawkridge

his own will stirred to the woman — Dan Jacobson

c. : choice , determination , intention

a universe as devoid of will and purpose as man, deterministically viewed, appears to be — F.B.Millet

too much disposed to make the empire a thing of plan and will — H.G.Wells

impels you to do things against your reasoned will and intentions — Rose Macaulay


a. : something wished for or desired ; especially : a choice or determination of one having authority, discretion, or power

thy will be done — Mt 6:10 (Authorized Version)

he holds him with his glittering eye … the mariner hath his will — S.T.Coleridge

failed to accomplish his will

determined to have his will of them

will do it … if it is God's will that it should be done — Gilbert Parker

the means at his disposal for making his will known by the written word — R.W.Southern

let him be apprehended and learn our awful will — W.S.Gilbert

man's attempt to impose his own will on things — Norman Goodall


(1) archaic : an expression of a desire or a determination : request , command , decree


[from the phrase our will is which introduces it]

: the part of a summons or other signet letter that expresses its will or command

3. : the act or process or the felt or known experience of willing:

a. : the act of choosing or determining : settlement of mental uncertainty or indecision : choice or decision of a mental issue : volition 2

b. : the total conscious process involved in effecting a decision

c. : action directed especially toward a goal clearly known in advance and requiring effort to overcome obstacles or contrary desires — compare conation


a. : a mental power or a disposition or the sum of mental powers or dispositions manifested in such operations and functions as wishing, choosing, desiring, intending

the precise relation between the activities of human wills and other forms of activity in the natural world is a highly speculative problem — H.H.Williams


(1) Scholasticism : the faculty of the soul coordinate with the intellect that determines rational choices in accordance with what the intellect has determined as good or bad ; also : a choice determined by the will especially as distinguished from instinctive or purely natural desires

(2) : a faculty of the mind that is usually coordinate with thought and feeling and determines action and especially moral action in accordance with ideals, principles, and facts

the moral will , controlled by consciousness of duty that transcends sense and experience — John Dewey

(3) : the combined rational and irrational, conscious and unconscious forces within a person that determine his choices and actions

the will … is a collective term for all the impulses to motion or action — G.S.Morris

also : the rational conscious forces or the irrational unconscious forces separately

what people want when they talk about freedom … is the idea that the conscious will is the master of their destiny — John Hospers

(4) : a disposition to act according to particular principles or to conform in conduct and thought to general or ideal ends

the will to believe

the will to agree

pathetically preserve the will to conquer, even when life no longer presents them with anything worth winning — Lawrence Binyon

like all the young ladies of fiction in her period, she had cultivated the will to faint — S.M.Crothers

— compare good will , ill will

b. : the collective desire, intention, or determination of a group or of mankind either when all are agreed or as determined by an interplay and elimination of divergent and conflicting wishes

the will of the people

give expression to a national will — W.J.Shepard

the law cannot be more important than the local will to have this law — Spencer Parratt

yielded to what was clearly the popular will — Lindsay Rogers

c. often capitalized : a transcendent reality of which individual wills are particular and partial manifestations

5. : power coupled with desire or intention:

a. : power to control, determine, or dispose : arbitrary disposal

deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies — Ps 27:12 (Authorized Version)

victims of a despot's will

the nameless chief whose will raised this stupendous fortress — Jacquetta & Christopher Hawkes

the serf did not know today what he would have to do tomorrow — he was at the will of another — R.W.Southern

b. : power of controlling one's own actions or emotions : self-control , self-direction

a man of iron will

faltering man … advanced a step or two by his own will — Thomas Hardy

wife who was just my shadow without any character or will of her own — Havelock Ellis

his will , so long lying fallow, was overborne by her determination — Joseph Conrad

the sudden collapse of her will when the strangers enter her house — Bernard De Voto

c. : the power of choosing and of acting in accordance with choice

an indomitable will that knew but one course — to break as much new land as possible each day — O.E.Rölvaag

science, which gave us this dread power … does not show us how to prevent its baleful use. Only in the will of mankind lies the answer — B.M.Baruch

6. : a legal declaration of a person's mind as to the manner in which he would have his property or estate disposed of after his death ; especially : a written instrument legally executed by which a man makes disposition of his estate to take effect after his death — see nuncupative will ; compare deed , testament

- against one's will

- at will

- of one's own will

- one's own sweet will

- with a will

III. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English willen, from Old English willian, from willa will

transitive verb

1. archaic : to long for : desire , wish


a. : to order or direct by a will or testament

willed that his property be divided equally among his children


(1) : to dispose of or give by a will : bequeath , devise

willed his entire estate to his wife

willed his property away from his own family

(2) : to hand down or transmit as if by a will or testament

the abundant beauty he willed to the world — Time

these things are literally in our blood and in our bones … willed to us genetically — Weston La Barre

3. : to determine by the will (as to do something or that something shall be done or shall come about): as


(1) : to decide or decide upon by an act of choice or volition

fully aware that he lives in an age of conformity, he is proud that his conformity is willed — Leo Marx

the assumption … that institutions are rational and willed — H.J.Muller

American people … have willed that all of their sons and daughters shall be educated to the limit of their capacity — English Language Arts

efforts of the business man can never be successful unless the community wills it so — Roy Lewis & Angus Maude

(2) : decree , ordain

if Providence so wills it

(3) : intend , purpose

willed more mischief than they durst — A.E.Housman

can adjust a few screws, then go away entirely, knowing that his precise work will be finished for him exactly as he willed it — Roger Burlingame

believe that whatever is willed can be achieved if only you invent the right machines — Norman Podhoretz


(1) : to attempt to cause or bring about by exercise of the will

haunted by the thought that he had willed her death

all humans desire objects and will their attainment — Samuel Alexander

a positive nihilist, an intellectual force willing destruction — T.S.Eliot

author wills a meaning into a passage that cannot sustain it — Charles Jackson

(2) : to bring about by power of the will

the more accurate understanding of disease … that some of it is psychological, even to the extent that it is willed by the patient — H.A.Overstreet

a last despairing attempt to will the kind of life he wanted into existence — D.H.Lawrence

entranced, he tried … to will the vision to remain — Olive Johnson

willed his countenance back to composure — J.H.Wheelwright

c. : to influence or control (as another person) by exercise of one's will (as through hypnotism)

4. archaic : command , enjoin , order

intransitive verb

1. : to exercise the will

striving might be bearable were there a highest good, to which, by willing, I could attain — Josiah Royce

would no longer have to go on willing against her — F.M.Ford

2. : desire , wish : as

a. : decide , determine , decree

king nominated as he willed to bishopric and abbacy — Hilaire Belloc

the right … to dispose of his labor and capital as he willed — C.A.Cooke

b. : choose , elect , prefer

watching the … donkeys and mules which wandered as they willed — Nicholas Monsarrat

trees that have grown where they willed out of the jumble — Martin Flavin


will , bequeath , devise , leave , and legate can mean to give a part or the whole of one's possessions to another by a last will and testament. will implies the provision or the existence of a last will and testament

will your property to your children

will a sum of money to a charitable institution

bequeath is much used in wills by the testator and in legal, historical, and literary use, often implying no more than a proved intention

bequeath to each of my sons an equal division of all I own

bequeathed to the organization his personal fortune and the entire income from his real estate

bequeath in legal use is commonly distinguished from devise by implying a gift of personalty rather than a gift of realty

devised his library, his public and private papers and letters, as well as the stately “Mount Vernon” with its surrounding 4,000 acres — G.W.Goble

leave is the usual unspecific term for any of the preceding terms

at his death the man left his small independent income to his brother

leave a legacy to the town

legate is the same as bequeath except in always implying a formal will

my library of manuscripts I legate to my alma mater

IV. adverb (or adjective)

Etymology: Middle English, from Old Norse villr wild, gone astray — more at wild

1. dialect : out of the way : astray

2. dialect : at a loss

V. intransitive verb

Etymology: Middle English willen, from Old Norse villask, reflex. of villa to bewilder, from villr wild, bewildered, gone astray

dialect : to become lost : go astray : wander

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.