fe·​ral | \ ˈfir-əl How to pronounce feral (audio) , ˈfer-; ˈfe-rəl How to pronounce feral (audio) \

Definition of feral

1 : of, relating to, or suggestive of a wild beast feral teeth feral instincts
2a : not domesticated or cultivated : wild feral animals
b : having escaped from domestication and become wild feral cats

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Other Words from feral

feral noun

Choose the Right Synonym for feral

brutal, brutish, bestial, feral mean characteristic of an animal in nature, action, or instinct. brutal applies to people, their acts, or their words and suggests a lack of intelligence, feeling, or humanity. a senseless and brutal war brutish stresses likeness to an animal in low intelligence, in base appetites, and in behavior based on instinct. brutish stupidity bestial suggests a state of degradation unworthy of humans and fit only for beasts. bestial depravity feral suggests the savagery or ferocity of wild animals. the struggle to survive unleashed their feral impulses

Examples of feral in a Sentence

They led a feral existence. animal experts discourage homeowners from trying to adopt feral animals as pets

Recent Examples on the Web

Robust data can also strengthen veterinary epidemiological studies, Rowan said, and perhaps inform feral cat population estimates, which are important for assessing their impact on wildlife. Karin Brulliard, chicagotribune.com, "How many Americans have pets? An investigation of fuzzy statistics," 13 Sep. 2019 Emojis and insults and near-threats keep coming until poor, scandalized Don has to close his laptop and scoot away, as if on the run from a feral creature poised to bite. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Experiments with Context in “Betrayal” and “Eureka Day”," 9 Sep. 2019 As the only known hosts of the parasite, domesticated and feral felines then spread deadly strains into their environment through oocysts—egg-like structures teeming with millions of immature T. gondii—shed in feces. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Parasite Spread by House Cats Is Killing California’s Sea Otters," 30 Aug. 2019 Thebes has taken it upon himself to help socialize feral kittens who come in to the shelter. Denise Coffey, courant.com, "Doing Her Part To Clear The Shelters," 26 Aug. 2019 Crucially, Forbes notes, the researchers pinpointed Type X’s origins to two feral cats and one bobcat living in the vicinity of the otters’ Monterey Bay habitat. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Parasite Spread by House Cats Is Killing California’s Sea Otters," 30 Aug. 2019 Dear Cathy, Dogs can be brought inside, feral cats, not so much, although there are ways. Cathy M. Rosenthal, ExpressNews.com, "Outdoor cats suffering in the Texas heat need extra help," 23 Aug. 2019 Maddox was a feral hyena who desperately missed his siblings, and Leka was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Kathryn Miles, Outside Online, "How to Introduce Your New Dog to Your Old Dog," 14 Aug. 2019 Justine Kurland’s Girl Pictures, feral despite their polish. Eryn Loeb, Longreads, "When Friendship Fades But the Images Linger," 9 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feral.' 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 feral

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for feral

Medieval Latin feralis, from Latin fera wild animal, from feminine of ferus wild — more at fierce

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Dictionary Entries near feral


ferae naturae






Statistics for feral

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for feral

The first known use of feral was in 1604

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More Definitions for feral



English Language Learners Definition of feral

: of, relating to, or resembling a wild beast
used to describe an animal (such as a cat or dog) that has escaped and become wild


fe·​ral | \ ˈfir-əl How to pronounce feral (audio) , ˈfer-\

Kids Definition of feral

: having escaped from the care of people and become wild feral pigs

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More from Merriam-Webster on feral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with feral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for feral

Nglish: Translation of feral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feral for Arabic Speakers

Comments on feral

What made you want to look up feral? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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