wolf

noun, often attributive
\ ˈwu̇lf How to pronounce wolf (audio) , ÷ˈwu̇f\
plural wolves\ ˈwu̇lvz How to pronounce wolves (audio) , ÷ˈwu̇vz \

Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 plural also wolf

a : any of several large predatory canids (genus Canis) that are active mostly at night, live and hunt in packs, and resemble the related dogs especially : gray wolf

Note: Wolves have long been viewed as threats to livestock and people resulting in significant worldwide declines in their numbers and range size due to persistent eradication efforts (as by hunting, trapping, and poisoning).

b : the fur of a wolf
2a(1) : a fierce, rapacious, or destructive person
(2) : a man forward, direct, and zealous in amatory attentions to women
b : dire poverty : starvation keep the wolf from the door
c : the maggot of a warble fly

3 [ German; from the howling sound ]

a(1) : dissonance in some chords on organs, pianos, or other instruments with fixed tones tuned by unequal temperament
(2) : an instance of such dissonance
b : a harshness due to faulty vibration in various tones in a bowed instrument
wolf in sheep's clothing
: one who cloaks a hostile intention with a friendly manner

wolf

verb
wolfed; wolfing; wolfs

Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

: to eat greedily : devour

Wolf

biographical name (1)
\ ˈvȯlf How to pronounce Wolf (audio) \

Definition of Wolf (Entry 3 of 4)

Friedrich August 1759–1824 German philologist

Wolf

biographical name (2)

Definition of Wolf (Entry 4 of 4)

Hugo Philipp Jakob 1860–1903 Austrian composer

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Other Words from wolf

Noun

wolflike \ ˈwu̇lf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wolflike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of wolf in a Sentence

Noun

no sooner had the lottery winner's name been made public than the wolves with their investment schemes showed up on her doorstep

Verb

the way you wolf your food it's no wonder you have intestinal distress

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Then the Messiah would arrive on his donkey to throw open the gates of Paradise, grapes would grow to the size of hen’s eggs, and the dead would rise from their graves to witness the wolf lying with the lamb. Dalia Rosenfeld, chicagotribune.com, "2019 Algren Awards: Finalist: If You Will Not Shave This Rabbit, He Will Get Stoned," 20 July 2019 There are also state laws against feeding bears, coyotes and wolves, says Broman. Janet Eastman, oregonlive.com, "What to do about cougars in the neighborhood, skunks under the house, bats in the attic," 19 July 2019 Conservation groups have complained that the state is too quick to kill wolves at the behest of ranchers. USA TODAY, "Saving whales, Manson murder house: News from around our 50 states," 17 July 2019 His outing against the Giants, however, left little opportunity for wolf call imitations. Kyle Newman, The Denver Post, "No howling today: Jon Gray turns in a six-run dud as Rockies get swept by Giants," 17 July 2019 Dogs even evolved specialized eyebrow muscles that give them those sweet facial expressions, a trait their wolf ancestors don’t have. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "Pet pigs can communicate with humans—especially when food is involved," 11 July 2019 Maine has not had wolves in decades and Mike believes that Shadow was mistaken for a coyote until evidence shows that the dog was targeted. Oline H. Cogdill, sun-sentinel.com, "Book review: Maine game warden on the hunt in ‘Almost Midnight’," 1 July 2019 View Sample Sign Up Now That wolf-pack mentality of girlhood. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "How Documentary Filmmaker Erin Lee Carr Brings ‘Radical Empathy’ to True Crime," 27 June 2019 Even though wolves can and do crunch bones, none did so to the degree of Chasmaporthetes. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Prehistoric Hyena’s Teeth Show Bone-Crushing Carnivore Roamed the Arctic," 19 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

News item: Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut wolfed down 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes Thursday to win his 12th title in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Coney Island boardwalk, but fell three franks short of his own record. Peter Schmuck, baltimoresun.com, "Schmuck stops: Orioles' Mancini stays snubbed, Knicks still the Knicks, Joey Chestnut still the top dog," 5 July 2019 The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs. Ali Swenson, Houston Chronicle, "We have a wiener! Joey Chestnut eats 71 hot dogs for title," 4 July 2019 The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs. CBS News, "Joey Chestnut, Miki Sudo defend titles at Fourth of July hot dog eating contest," 4 July 2019 The Avengers: Endgame star was back on his workout grind days after tying the knot with Katherine Schwarzenegger – and wolfing down an oversized helping of wedding cake. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, "Chris Pratt Jokes He Ate '12 lbs. of Wedding Cake' After Marrying Katherine Schwarzenegger," 12 June 2019 Racing from point to point and wolfing down the sights may be the most authentic way to see New York—in keeping with the Weltgeist of the city—but the spirit of Paris is one of savoring details, of pausing between activities. Jay Mcinerney, Vogue, "Why, Oh Why Do I Love Paris? Jay McInerney Counted the Ways in a 1986 Story for Vogue, Republished Here in Solidarity With the French Capital, Where Notre-Dame Burned," 16 Apr. 2019 Veera and Suku are a great team: In between gorging themselves on buttery sweets such as laddus and jalebis, and wolfing down mango pickles with fried fish and rice, the two boys solve mysteries, expose swindlers and humble the arrogant. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales Told in Many Tongues," 3 Jan. 2019 The driver of a Pepsi truck, wolfing pizza with the engine going, spots Pakenham’s raised phone, drops the pizza, and pulls back into traffic. Elizabeth Royte, Daily Intelligencer, "George Pakenham is waging a one-man war on air pollution on the Upper West Side.," 10 July 2018 Can the decision to wolf down two doughnuts — and then shake out the decorative curls of chocolate that collect in the bottom of the bag and eat those, too — really be foretold by something deep in my family’s DNA? Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Will my genes doom my young daughter to a weight problem?," 31 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wolf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wolf

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1862, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wolf

Noun

Middle English, from Old English wulf; akin to Old High German wolf wolf, Latin lupus, Greek lykos

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Statistics for wolf

Last Updated

23 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wolf

The first known use of wolf was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for wolf

wolf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large wild animal that is similar to a dog and that often hunts in groups

wolf

verb

English Language Learners Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to eat (something) very quickly

wolf

noun
\ ˈwu̇lf How to pronounce wolf (audio) \
plural wolves\ ˈwu̇lvz \

Kids Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large bushy-tailed wild animal that resembles the related domestic dog, eats meat, and often lives and hunts in packs
2 : a crafty or fierce person

Other Words from wolf

wolfish \ ˈwu̇l-​fish \ adjective

wolf

verb
wolfed; wolfing

Kids Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to eat fast or greedily

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More from Merriam-Webster on wolf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wolf

Spanish Central: Translation of wolf

Nglish: Translation of wolf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wolf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wolf

Comments on wolf

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