1B. Battery won't hold a charge.

1N. Noise from the device won't stop.

2D. [ Door is stuck and won't budge. ]

2H. [ Husband stuck on name and won't budge! ] --- (Baby Name Game)

For the auxiliary verb [will], three dictionaries I checked all have separate entries for

  • (P). -- A person desiring or wishing something, and

  • (Obj). -- An inanimate object having capability --- [the back seat will hold three passengers]

I believe that there is no difference between these two meanings (P) and (Obj), which you can confirm by trying to assign these two meanings to the 4 examples at the top.

(You will eliminate by deduction, [futurity] and other meanings.)

What do you think?

The (Obj) meaning in the 3 dictionaries :

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/will 4 —used to express capability or sufficiency ---- [the back seat will hold three passengers]

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/will 6. (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. ]


  1. am (is, are, etc.) capable of; can: [ This tree will live without water for three months.]

    1. used as an auxiliary to express capacity or ability: [this rope will support a load]
  • We generally don't think of inanimate objects as having desires and wishes. The back seat doesn't have any feelings about the number of persons who sit on it. A person would.
    – deadrat
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 6:06
  • Sometimes the English pedantic Vegematic dices a little too finely.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 12:02

1 Answer 1


You have submitted a lengthy question, but what it boils down to is, in door won't budge and husband won't budge, whether the won't (short for will not), in each case, has the same meaning.

All I would say is that we often ascribe human volition, not only with will, to inanimate things e.g. the car won't start, my computer has lost all its memory, my oven keeps bleeping at me etc.

One might also argue that the volitional will is actually only the future will in disguise. Isn't the door will not open only short for if you push it, it will not open (future tense).

  • I like your last paragraph best. That's how the phrases come across to me. Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 2:09

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