24 Synonyms for “Willful Ignorance”

You want to describe a situation where someone has ignored something important, but finding another word for “willful ignorance” can be pretty tricky. Happily, we’re here to help!

We’ve compiled a list of formal and informal synonyms for this phrase below, so read on to learn more!

Willful Ignorance Synonyms

  • Deliberate disregard
  • Turn a blind eye
  • Look the other way
  • Willfully blind
  • Ignorance of law
  • Bad faith ignorance
  • Deliberate ignorance
  • Willful incompetence
  • Purposeful incomprehension
  • Willful lack of awareness
  • Deliberate stupidity
  • Willful idiocy
  • Intentional obliviousness
  • Intentional benightedness
  • Voluntary naivety
  • Calculated ignorance
  • Purposeful cluelessness
  • Bury your head in the sand
  • In denial
  • Cognitive bias
  • Willful neglect
  • Contrived ignorance
  • Conscious avoidance
  • Nelsonian knowledge


  • “Willful ignorance” is a formal phrase often used in the context of the law.
  • In professional settings, you can use “deliberate disregard” as a formal alternative.
  • In informal settings, you can say “turn a blind eye.”

Before you go! We’re about to discuss our favorite formal and informal synonyms for “willful ignorance” and provide some practical examples. So, keep reading, or you might miss out!

After that, we’ll talk about the correctness of the phrase “willful ignorance.” Is it a crime to be willfully ignorant?

Deliberate Disregard (Formal)

If you’re looking for a synonym for “willful ignorance” that you can use in a formal setting, we would recommend the phrase “deliberate disregard.”

Like “willful ignorance,” this phrase refers to a situation where you purposefully ignore or fail to take heed of something that you should pay attention to.

The phrase “willful ignorance” is still an effective term for this. Moreover, both can be used in formal circumstances. However, you can use this synonym when you want to mix up your language.

To see how this phrase might be used in a work scenario, consider the email example below:

Dear Cartman,

I acknowledge your argument that you were unaware of the rule against client harassment due to the fact that you never read the company code of conduct.

However, I am afraid that our policies do not give leeway for a deliberate disregard of company rules. Our decision about your dismissal remains firm.

Thomas Heard

Turn a Blind Eye (Informal)

Another way of describing “willful ignorance” is to “turn a blind eye” to a situation.

It is not a better phrase than “willful ignorance,” but it is one that most people will be more familiar with. Therefore, it is a preferable informal alternative to the original phrase.

This is a more idiomatic expression that means to pretend to be unaware of or ignore something. Since this phrase is more idiomatic, it should be avoided in particularly formal situations.

However, you can still use this phrase in work situations. Although, we would avoid it when speaking to a superior!

For example, consider the following sentences:

As an office designed to protect the rights of the public, we cannot turn a blind eye to the blatant corruption taking place currently.

I’ll turn a blind eye to it this time, but don’t let it happen again.

Is It Correct to Say “Willful Ignorance”?

The phrase “willful ignorance” is correct. It is a rather formal phrase and may come across as rather stuffy in informal circumstances.

Therefore, you can use our list of synonyms if you’re looking for an informal alternative to this phrase. Likewise, you can use our list to find alternatives if this phrase starts to feel overused.

Essentially, “willful ignorance” is a term used mainly in law. It refers to the situation in which a person purposefully keeps themselves unaware of specific facts in order to avoid criminal liability.

Being willfully ignorant is neither a crime nor a sin. However, if you commit a crime, the courts in most countries will not accept ignorance of the law as a defense.

This is especially the case if you chose not to ask any questions when you were doing something that you knew might be legally dubious!

In conclusion, “willful ignorance” is a grammatically correct phrase that you can use in formal settings, particularly in the legal arena.

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