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  • IPA(key): /wɪl/, [wɪɫ]
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪl

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English willen, wullen, wollen, from Old English willan (to want), from Proto-West Germanic *willjan, from Proto-Germanic *wiljaną, from Proto-Indo-European *welh₁- (to choose, wish).

Cognate with Dutch willen, Low German willen, German wollen, Swedish and Norwegian Nynorsk vilja, Norwegian Bokmål ville, Latin velle (wish, verb) and Albanian vel (to satisfy, be stuffed). The verb is not always distinguishable from Etymology 3, below.

Alternative formsEdit


will (third-person singular simple present will, present participle willing, simple past would, no past participle)

  1. (auxiliary) Used to express the future tense, sometimes with some implication of volition when used in the first person. Compare shall. [from 10th c.]
    One of our salesmen will visit you tomorrow.
    I will pass this exam.
    • 1602, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, or What You Will, act IV:
      Good fool, as ever thou wilt deserve well at my hand, help me to a candle, and pen, ink and paper : as I am a gentleman, I will live to be thankful to thee for’t.
    • 1845, Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, chapter LXXIII:
      “I will go to you, and we will fly; but from this moment until then, let us not tempt Providence, let us not see each other. It is a miracle, it is a providence that we have not been discovered. If we were surprised, if it were known that we met thus, we should have no further resource.”
  2. (auxiliary) To be able to, to have the capacity to. [from 14th c.]
    Unfortunately, only one of these gloves will actually fit over my hand.
  3. (auxiliary) Expressing a present tense with some conditional or subjective weakening: "will turn out to", "must by inference". [from 15th c.]
    He will be home by now. He always gets home before 6 o'clock.
    • 2007, Edward Jesko, The Polish:
      “That will be five zloty.” I reached into my pocket and came up with some coins.
    • 2012, Penny Freedman, All The Daughters:
      Unless she diverted on the ten minute walk home, she’ll have got home at about half past.
  4. (auxiliary) To habitually do (a given action). [from 9th c.]
    Boys will be boys.
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, page 28:
      As young men will, I did my best to appear suave and sophisticated.
    • 2009, Stephen Bayley, The Telegraph, 24 Sep 09:
      How telling is it that many women will volunteer for temporary disablement by wearing high heeled shoes that hobble them?
    • 2011, "Connubial bliss in America", The Economist:
      So far neither side has scored a decisive victory, though each will occasionally claim one.
  5. (auxiliary) To choose or agree to (do something); used to express intention but without any temporal connotations (+ bare infinitive), often in questions and negation. [from 10th c.]
    Will you marry me?
    I’ve told him three times, but he won’t take his medicine.
  6. (now uncommon or literary, transitive) To wish, desire (something). [chiefly 9th-19th c.]
    Do what you will.
    • 1601, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, or What You Will:
      Twelfe Night, Or what you will (original spelling)
    • And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
    • 1944, FJ Sheed, translating St. Augustine, Confessions:
      Grant what Thou dost command, and command what Thou wilt.
  7. (now rare, intransitive) To wish or desire (that something happen); to intend (that). [9th-19th c.]
    • c. 1450, The Macro Plays:
      If thou wilt fare well at meat and meal, come and follow me.
    • 1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew XXVI:
      the disciples cam to Jesus sayinge unto hym: where wylt thou that we prepare for the to eate the ester lambe?
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 54573970:
      see God's goodwill toward men, hear how generally his grace is proposed, to him, and him, and them, each man in particular, and to all. 1 Tim. ii. 4. "God will that all men be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."
  8. (archaic) Implying will go.
Usage notesEdit
  • Historically, will was used in the simple future sense only in the second and third person, while shall was used in the first person. Today, that distinction is almost entirely lost, and the verb takes the same form in all persons and both numbers. Similarly, in the intent sense, will was historically used with the second and third person, while shall was reserved for the first person.
  • The present tense is will and the past tense is would. Early Modern English had a past participle would which is now obsolete.
    Malory: ‘Many tymes he myghte haue had her and he had wold’. John Done: ‘If hee had would, hee might easily [...] occupied the Monarchy.’
  • Formerly, will could be used elliptically for "will go" — e.g. "I'll to her lodgings" (Marlowe).
  • See the usage note at shall.
  • The present participle does not apply to the uses of will as an auxiliary verb.
  • The form of will with the enclitic -n’t (or the present tense negative form of will in the analysis in which -n’t is an inflectional suffix) is won’t (will not) (rather than the form that would be expected based on a regular application of -n't, willn’t), while the corresponding form of the past tense would is wouldn’t.
See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English wille, from Old English willa (mind, will, determination, purpose, desire, wish, request, joy, delight, pleasure) (compare verb willian), from Proto-Germanic *wiljô (desire, will), from Proto-Indo-European *welh₁- (to choose, wish). Cognate with Dutch wil, German Wille, Swedish vilja, Norwegian vilje.

Alternative formsEdit


will (plural wills)

  1. One's independent faculty of choice; the ability to be able to exercise one's choice or intention. [from 9th c.]
    Of course, man's will is often regulated by his reason.
  2. The act of choosing to do something; a person’s conscious intent or volition. [from 10th c.]
    Most creatures have a will to live.
    • 2012 May 27, Nathan Rabin, “TV: Review: THE SIMPSONS (CLASSIC): “New Kid On The Block” (season 4, episode 8; originally aired 11/12/1992)”, in The Onion AV Club[1]:
      The episode’s unwillingness to fully commit to the pathos of the Bart-and-Laura subplot is all the more frustrating considering its laugh quota is more than filled by a rollicking B-story that finds Homer, he of the iron stomach and insatiable appetite, filing a lawsuit against The Frying Dutchman when he’s hauled out of the eatery against his will after consuming all of the restaurant’s shrimp (plus two plastic lobsters).
  3. One's intention or decision; someone's orders or commands. [from 9th c.]
    Eventually I submitted to my parents' will.
  4. Firmity of purpose, fixity of intent
    Synonyms: determination, firmness, resoluteness, resolve
    • 1998, John Skorupski, , Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy , Mill, John Stuart (1806–73):
      Thus Mill’s case for the claim that happiness is the sole human end, put more carefully, is this: ‘Whatever is desired otherwise than as a means to some end beyond itself, and ultimately to happiness, is desired as itself a part of happiness, and is not desired for itself until has become so’ (1861a: 237). Nothing here assumed Hume’s view that every action must ultimately flow from an underived desire. That is a quite separate issue, and Mill’s view of it is closer to that of Kant or Reid than to that of Hume. He insists ‘positively and emphatically’ that the will is a different thing from desire; that a person of confirmed virtue, or any other person whose purposes are fixed, carries out his purposes without any thought of the pleasure he has in contemplating them, or expects to derive from their fulfilment. (1861a: 238) This distinction between purpose and desire is central to Mill’s conception of the will. When we develop purposes we can will against mere likings or aversions: ‘In the case of an habitual purpose, instead of willing the thing because we desire it, we often desire it only because we will it’ (1861a: 238). Every action is caused by a motive, but not every motive is a liking or aversion: When the will is said to be determined by motives, a motive does not mean always, or solely, the anticipation of a pleasure or of a pain…. A habit of willing is commonly called a purpose; and among the causes of our volitions, and of the actions which flow from them, must be reckoned not only likings and aversions, but also purposes. (1843: 842) The formation of purposes from desires is the evolution of will; it is also the development of character. Mill quotes Novalis: ‘a character is a completely fashioned will’ (1843: 843).
    • 2015, Dr. Harlan K. Ullman, Huffington Post 31 May 2015., "Winston Spencer Ghani":
      ...surely the link could not have been with Churchill the brilliant, gallant and steadfast wartime leader who, by dint of character, will and language, turned near defeat into victory.
  5. (law) A formal declaration of one's intent concerning the disposal of one's property and holdings after death; the legal document stating such wishes. [from 14th c.]
    Synonyms: testament, last will, last will and testament
    • 1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 1, in Well Tackled![2]:
      “Uncle Barnaby was always father and mother to me,” Benson broke in; then after a pause his mind flew off at a tangent. “Is old Hannah all right—in the will, I mean?”
  6. (archaic) That which is desired; one's wish. [from 10th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.ii:
      I auow by this most sacred head / Of my deare foster child, to ease thy griefe, / And win thy will [...].
  7. (archaic) Desire, longing. (Now generally merged with later senses.) [from 9th c.]
    He felt a great will to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Usage notesEdit
  • For example a strong will, free will, or independent will.
Derived termsEdit
  • Bengali: উইল (uil)

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English willen, from Old English willian (to will), from Proto-West Germanic *willjōn (to will), from Proto-Indo-European *welh₁- (to choose, wish). Cognate with German Low German willen, German willen. The verb is not always distinguishable from Etymology 1, above.


will (third-person singular simple present wills, present participle willing, simple past and past participle willed or (rare) would)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To instruct (that something be done) in one's will. [from 9th c.]
  2. (transitive) To bequeath (something) to someone in one's will (legal document). [from 15th c.]
    He willed his stamp collection to the local museum.
  3. (transitive) To exert one's force of will (intention) in order to compel, or attempt to compel, something to happen or someone to do something. [from 10th c.]
    All the fans were willing their team to win the game.

See alsoEdit



From Proto-Uto-Aztecan *wip



  1. fat, grease





  1. first/third-person singular present of wollen