gray wolf


Definition of gray wolf 

: a large, broad-headed, wide-muzzled wolf (Canis lupus) that has a dense, heavy coat of usually light brown or brownish gray interspersed with black above and yellowish white below and that was formerly widely distributed throughout North America and Eurasia but is now greatly restricted to the more northerly parts of its range The only sizable gray wolf population south of Canada and Alaska continues to roam the forest-and-lake country of northern Minnesota.— Vic Banks

Note: The gray wolf has been considered a threat to livestock and people for hundreds of years and has been wiped out from most of its original range by hunting, trapping, and poisoning.

called also timber wolf

Illustration of gray wolf

Illustration of gray wolf

Examples of gray wolf in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

While some studies have found that local wildlife in the zone suffered from ill effects, others found that the disaster zone has turned into an unlikely nature reserve, one that has allowed gray wolves to flourish. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Chernobyl is Turning Into a Wildlife Preserve for Wolves," 1 July 2018 ScienceCollared gray wolf in California ventured toward Lake Tahoe’s... US & World // ScienceMariposa Grove, Yosemite’s haven for giant sequoias, restored and... The Caribbean island of Bonaire is one of many places doing just that. Peter Fimrite,, "Hawaii to ban sunscreen that damages coral," 7 July 2018 For example, Mexican wolves—a subspecies of gray wolves that once lived in Mexico and the American Southwest—bounced back after declining to a population of only seven individuals, without causing an outbreak of genetic disease. Robbie George, National Geographic, "Rule to Allow Hunting Could Doom Rare Red Wolves," 29 June 2018 The federal government is considering another attempt to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species. John Flesher, Detroit Free Press, "Feds may drop gray wolf from endangered species list," 14 June 2018 The last wild gray wolf in California before OR-7 showed up was killed in 1924. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wolves in Northern California aren’t just loping through anymore; they’re here to stay," 9 May 2018 According to study author Michael Byrne, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Missouri at Columbia, gray wolf population density around Chernobyl is up to seven times higher than in surrounding reserves. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Chernobyl is Turning Into a Wildlife Preserve for Wolves," 1 July 2018 There are two known packs of gray wolves that have recently made California home: the Lassen Pack in western Lassen County and the Shasta Pack, discovered in 2015. Gabby Ferreira, sacbee, "This Oregon tourist's visit to California is something special: She's a rare gray wolf," 12 June 2018 African Parks isn’t the first organization to translocate wildlife, a practice that is decades old and brought gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park from Canada in the 1990s, and reintroduced the giant pandas to China in 2011. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "A 21st-century Noah’s ark transports animals back to places where they’ve been wiped out.," 18 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of gray wolf

1595, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gray wolf

Dictionary Entries near gray wolf

gray widgeon

gray wildcat

gray willow

gray wolf




Statistics for gray wolf

Last Updated

22 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for gray wolf

The first known use of gray wolf was in 1595

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on gray wolf Encyclopedia article about gray wolf

Comments on gray wolf

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


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!