Etymology: Middle English, from wan- deficient, wrong, mis- (from Old English, from wan deficient) + towen, past participle of teen to draw, train, discipline, from Old English tēon — more at tow
Date: 14th century
a. archaic hard to control ; undisciplined, unruly
b. playfully mean or cruel ; mischievous
a. lewd, bawdy
b. causing sexual excitement ; lustful, sensual
a. merciless, inhumane <wanton cruelty> b. having no just foundation or provocation ; malicious <a wanton attack> 4. being without check or limitation: as a. luxuriantly rank <wanton vegetation> b. unduly lavish ; extravagant <wanton imagination> • wantonly adverb • wantonness noun II. noun Date: 1509 1. a. one given to self-indulgent flirtation or trifling — used especially in the phrase play the wanton b. a lewd or lascivious person 2. a pampered person or animal ; pet; especially a spoiled child 3. a frolicsome child or animal III. verb Date: 1582 intransitive verb to be wanton or act wantonly transitive verb to pass or waste wantonly or in wantonness • wantoner noun
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.