a. Lascivious or promiscuous. Used especially of women.
b. Exciting or expressing sexual desire: a wanton pose.
2. Marked by unprovoked, gratuitous maliciousness; capricious and unjust: wanton destruction.
3. Unrestrainedly excessive: wanton extravagance.
4. Luxuriant; overabundant: wanton tresses.
5. Frolicsome; playful: a wanton fawn.
6. Obsolete Rebellious; refractory.
intr.v. wan·toned, wan·ton·ing, wan·tons
1. To behave in a wanton manner; act lasciviously.
2. To move idly or playfully.
One, especially a woman, who is licentious or promiscuous.
[Middle English wantowen : wan-, not, lacking (from Old English; see euə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots) + towen, past participle of teen, to bring up (from Old English tēon, to lead, draw; see deuk- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.