From Middle English willen, wullen, wollen, from Old English willan, wyllan (“to will, be willing, wish, desire, be used to, to be about to”), from Proto-Germanic *wiljaną (“to desire, wish”), 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.
will (third-person singular simple present will, present participle willing, simple past would, past participle -)
- (rare, transitive) To wish, desire (something). [9th-18th c.]
Do what you will.
- 1601, William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, or What You Will
- Twelfe Night, Or what you will (original spelling)
- 1944, FJ Sheed, translating St. Augustine, Confessions:
- Grant what Thou dost command, and command what Thou wilt.
- (rare, intransitive) To wish or desire (that something happen); to intend (that). [9th-19th c.]
- a1450, The Macro Playsː
- 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?
- 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."
- (auxiliary) To habitually do (a given action). [from 9th c.]
- 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.
- (auxiliary) To choose to (do something); used to express intention but without any temporal connotations (+ bare infinitive), often in negation. [from 10th c.]
I’ve told him three times, but he won’t take his medicine.
- (auxiliary) Used to express the future tense, sometimes with some implication of volition when used in the first person. Compare shall. [from 10th c.]
- 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.”
- (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.
- (auxiliary) Expressing a present tense with some conditional or subjective weakening: "will turn out to", "must by inference". [from 15th c.]
- 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.
- 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.
- Historically, 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”), while the corresponding form of the past tense would is wouldn’t. Won’t is an irregular form; the expected form would be willn’t.
indicating future action
- American Sign Language: [email protected] [email protected]
- Arabic: سَوْفَ (sawfa) + present tense, prefix سَـ (ar) (sa-) + present tense, رَح (raḥ) (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, etc.)
- Egyptian Arabic: prefix حـ (ḥa-) + present tense
- Belarusian: Use the future perfective or use the future of быць (bycʹ) + imperfective infinitive
- Bulgarian: ще (bg) (šte) (+ present form)
- Burmese: နောင် (my) (naung), မည် (my) (many), အံ့ (my) (am.)
- Cantonese: 會, 会 (wui5, wui3)
- Mandarin: 將 (zh), 将 (zh) (jiāng), 要 (zh) (yào), 將要 (zh), 将要 (zh) (jiāngyào), 會 (zh), 会 (zh) (huì)
- Czech: Use the future perfective or use the future of být + imperfective infinitive
- Danish: vil, skal (da)
- Dutch: zullen (nl)
- Esperanto: -os Use the future tense
- Finnish: Use the present tense, tulla (fi)
- French: Use the future tense -rai, -ras, -ra, -rons, -rez, -ront, e.g. J’irai au magasin.; (colloquial) aller (fr)
- German: werden (de), present tense form is often used
- Greek: Ancient: (use the future tense)
- Modern: Use θα + subjunctive verb form (future simple) or present verb form (future continuous e.g. θα δω or θα βλέπω
- Hebrew: עָתִיד (he) m ('atíd)
- Hungarian: fog (hu)
- Ido: suffix -os after verbal roots
- Indonesian: akan (id)
- Italian: Use the future tense -rò, -rai, -rà, -remo, -rete, -ranno, e.g. Andrò al negozio.
- Japanese: だろう (ja) (darō)
- Khmer: នឹង (km) (nɨŋ) (prefix)
- Korean: -ᆯ 것이다 (-l geosida)
- Lao: ຈະ (cha), ຈິ (chi), ຊິ (si), ຈັກ (chak) (obsolete)
- Latin: Use the future tense
- Macedonian: ќе (ḱe) (+ present form)
- Malay: akan
- Navajo: dooleeł
- Norwegian: vil (no), kommer til å, skal (no)
- Novial: sal
- Old English: use the present tense; (more rarely) willan (ang), sċulan
- Polish: Use the future perfective or use the future of być + imperfective infinitive
- Portuguese: Use the future tense; (colloquial) use present indicative forms of ir (pt)
- Russian: Use the future perfective or use the future of быть (bytʹ) + imperfective infinitive
- I will be going back and forth to the post office — Я буду ходи́ть на по́чту
- I will be going to the post office — Я бу́ду идти́ на по́чту
- I will go to the post office — Я пойду́ на по́чту
- Cyrillic: хтети, хтјети
- Roman: hteti, htjeti (sh)
- Slovak: Use the future perfective or use the future of byť + imperfective infinitive
- Slovene: biti (sl)
- Spanish: Use the future tense -ré, -rás, -rá, -remos, -reis, -rán, e.g. Iré a la tienda.
- Swahili: -ta-
- Swedish: komma till att, komma att, skola (sv), vilja (sv), tänka (sv)
- I will go to the store — Jag ska gå till affären or Jag kommer att gå till affären
- Thai: จะ (th) (jà)
- Turkish: (2): suffix for all verbs: -ecek (if the last vowel of a verb is e,i,ö or ü) or -acak (if the vowel is a,ı,o or u).
- Ukrainian: Use the future perfective or use the future of бу́ти (búty) + imperfective infinitive; special endings, e.g. "I will walk": ходи́тиму (ходи́ти (xodýty) + иму)
- Vietnamese: sẽ (vi)
- West Frisian: sille, gean (fy)
- Yapese: ra
- Yiddish: וועלן (veln)
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. The verb is not always distinguishable from Etymology 1, above.
will (plural wills)
- 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.
- One's intention or decision; someone's orders or commands. [from 9th c.]
- Eventually I submitted to my parents' will.
- The act of choosing to do something; a person’s conscious intent or volition. [from 10th c.]
- Most creatures have a will to live.
(deprecated use of
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:
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).
- (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.]
(deprecated use of
1928, Lawrence R. Bourne, chapter 1, in Well Tackled!:
“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?”
- (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 [...].
- (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.
- For example a strong will, free will, or independent will.
one's independent faculty of choice
act of choosing to do something; conscious intent or volition
- Korean: 의지 (ko) (uiji)
- Latin: voluntas
- Luxembourgish: Wëllen m
- Macedonian: во́лја f (vólja)
- Maori: takune, whakaaro, e (before verb), ka (mi) (before verb)
- Ngazidja Comorian: nyandzo class 9/10
- Nogai: эрк (érk)
- Norwegian: vilje (no) m, ønske (no) n
- Occitan: volontat (oc)
- Old Church Slavonic:
- Cyrillic: волꙗ f (volja)
- Old Norse: vili m
- Persian: آرزو (fa) (ârezu), خواسته (fa) (xâste)
- Polish: wola (pl) f
- Portuguese: vontade (pt) f
- Romanian: voință (ro) f
- Romansch: voluntad, volunted, voluntà
- Russian: во́ля (ru) f (vólja)
- Sanskrit: इच्छा (sa) f (icchā)
- Sardinian: bolontade, boluntadi, volontade
- Cyrillic: воља f
- Roman: vȍlja (sh) f
- Slovak: vôľa f
- Slovene: volja (sl) f
- Lower Sorbian: wóla f
- Upper Sorbian: wola f
- Spanish: voluntad (es) f, albedrío (es) m
- Swedish: vilja (sv) c, önskan (sv) c
- Tocharian A: kri
- Ukrainian: во́ля f (vólja)
- Albanian: testament (sq) m
- Arabic: وَصِيَّة f (waṣiyya)
- Armenian: կտակ (hy) (ktak)
- Azerbaijani: vəsiyyət (az)
- Belarusian: завяшча́нне n (zavjaščánnje), тастаме́нт m (tastamjént)
- Bengali: উইল (u'il)
- Bulgarian: завеща́ние (bg) n (zaveštánie)
- Burmese: သေတမ်းစာ (my) (setam:ca)
- Catalan: testament (ca) m
- Central Melanau: wil
- Mandarin: 遺囑 (zh), 遗嘱 (zh) (yízhǔ)
- Czech: závěť (cs) f, poslední vůle f
- Danish: testamente (da) n
- Dutch: testament (nl) n, laatste wilsbeschikking f
- Esperanto: testamento (eo)
- Estonian: testament (et)
- Faroese: testamenti n, arvaskjal n, arvabræv n
- Finnish: testamentti (fi), viimeinen tahto
- French: testament (fr) m
- Galician: testamento (gl) m
- Georgian: ანდერძი (anderʒi)
- German: Testament (de) n, Letzter Wille m
- Greek: διαθήκη (el) f (diathíki)
- Ancient: διαθήκη f (diathḗkē)
- Hebrew: צַוָּאָה / צוואה f (tzavaá)
- Hindi: वसीयत (hi) f (vasīyat)
- Hungarian: végrendelet (hu)
- Indonesian: wasiat (id)
- Irish: tiomna (ga) m, uacht (ga) f
- Italian: lascito (it) m, testamento (it) m
- Japanese: 遺書 (ja) (いしょ, isho)
- Kazakh: өсиет (ösïet)
- Khmer: មត្តកសាសន៍ (mattaʔkaʔsaah)
- Korean: 유서 (ko) (yuseo)
From Middle English willen, from Old English willian (“to will”), from Proto-Germanic *wiljōną (“to will”), from Proto-Indo-European *welh₁- (“to choose, wish”). Cognate with German Low German willen, German willen.
will (third-person singular simple present wills, present participle willing, simple past willed or (rare) would, past participle willed)
- (archaic) To wish, desire. [9th–19th c.]
- Bible, Matthew viii. 2
- And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
- (transitive, intransitive) To instruct (that something be done) in one's will. [from 9th c.]
- (transitive) To try to make (something) happen by using one's will (intention). [from 10th c.]
- All the fans were willing their team to win the game.
- They willed me say so, madam.
- Beaumont and Fletcher
- Send for music, / And will the cooks to use their best of cunning / To please the palate.
- (transitive) To bequeath (something) to someone in one's will (legal document). [from 15th c.]
- He willed his stamp collection to the local museum.