mav·​er·​ick | \ˈmav-rik, ˈma-və-\

Definition of maverick 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an unbranded range animal especially : a motherless calf

2 : an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party


mav·​er·​ick | \ˈmav-rik, ˈma-və-\

Definition of maverick (Entry 2 of 2)

: characteristic of, suggestive of, or inclined to be a maverick

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When a client gave Samuel A. Maverick 400 cattle to settle a $1,200 debt, the 19th-century south Texas lawyer had no use for them, so he left the cattle unbranded and allowed them to roam freely (supposedly under the supervision of one of his employees). Neighboring stockmen recognized their opportunity and seized it, branding and herding the stray cattle as their own. Maverick eventually recognized the folly of the situation and sold what was left of his depleted herd, but not before his name became synonymous with such unbranded livestock. By the end of the 19th century, the term maverick was being used to refer to individuals who prefer to blaze their own trails.

Examples of maverick in a Sentence


Let him refind his inner rebel, the famous irreverent maverick, let the tiger out of the cage. — Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 28–29 June 2008 In the Senate, however, he had established himself as a bright and prickly maverick, not averse to sharp criticism of his own party, its policies, and its leaders, most especially Bill Clinton. — John Gregory Dunne, New York Review of Books, 13 June 2002 This, of course, is dangerous for the rest of us. With one successfully repatriated daughter, Papi might yank us all out of college and send us back. Not to mention that it's out and out creepy that Fifi, the maverick, is so changed. — Julia Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, 1991 there's always one maverick who has to go his own way


Occasionally nerves and veins take maverick pathways and show up in unexpected places. — Virginia Holman, Double Take, Winter 2002 Later British units, deprived of the opportunity for maverick expression by a revamped chain of UN command with a different political agenda, started spouting the organization's euphemisms that sought to paint every Bosnian side the same shade of guilty grey. — Anthony Loyd, My War Gone By, I Miss It So, 1999 He was maverick enough, original-minded enough, however, to realize that he could do better than simply follow Murray's orders to the letter. — Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, 1998 George Sand's maverick views on marriage scandalized 19th-century French society.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Here, the German photographer Annette Kelm and the maverick Darren Bader have side-by-side shows. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "12 Galleries to Visit Now in Chelsea," 26 Apr. 2018 Franchot, a former state lawmaker who lives in Takoma Park, is seen as a bit of a political maverick — a fiscal conservative who is close with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Washington Post, "Local Digest: Southeast D.C. woman found shot to death," 13 June 2018 His personal brand as an industry maverick may have helped too. The Economist, "T-Mobile and Sprint chivvy regulators to bless their merger," 3 May 2018 In sum, only a minority of politically focused Americans express violent hostility against either partisan opponents or mavericks in their own party; of the those, the other party is the more common target. Lilliana Mason, Washington Post, "Surprised by the anger toward McCain? Party loyalists can hate apostates as much as opponents.," 16 May 2018 West Ham have emerged as a potential destination for former Manchester City and Liverpool maverick Mario Balotelli, according to reports., "Mario Balotelli Emerges As Shock West Ham Target As Competition for Ex-Liverpool Star Heats Up," 24 Mar. 2018 While most appointees in recent years have succeeded a like-minded predecessor, the 81-year-old Justice Kennedy, while conservative in nature, nonetheless has proved a maverick on issues that have helped define modern American society. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, "Justice Anthony Kennedy’s Exit Sets the Stage for a Fierce Battle Over His Successor," 28 June 2018 And on Tuesday, Democrats in several states that President Trump carried in 2016 selected ideological mavericks to carry their banner in difficult House races. New York Times, "Trying for House Gains, Democrats Bless Moderates and Annoy Liberals," 13 May 2018 Even so, Mr Dershowitz is an intellectual heavyweight, a beguiling maverick, and his effort to immunise Mr Trump against demands for his impeachment is illuminating. The Economist, "The case against impeachment," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

By Elif Batuman Sick of corruption and of Trump, voters embrace a maverick leftist. William Brewer, The New Yorker, "Strays," 9 July 2017 Its creator, a maverick Pennsylvania dentist and inventor named Lytle Adams, had some friends in high places. Lucy Cooke, Washington Post, "The batty, explosive history of bats in the military — and why this new idea just might work," 2 July 2018 Its creator, a maverick Pennsylvania dentist and inventor named Lytle Adams, had some friends in high places. Lucy Cooke, Washington Post, "The batty, explosive history of bats in the military — and why this new idea just might work," 2 July 2018 Years of austerity has left Greece’s political scene deeply polarized, reflecting a fragmentation of the political landscape across Europe, as maverick parties emerge and establishment parties shoulder the blame for the crisis. Deborah Ball, WSJ, "Aftereffects of Eurozone Crisis Plague Europe’s South," 1 June 2018 Its creator, a maverick Pennsylvania dentist and inventor named Lytle Adams, had some friends in high places. Lucy Cooke, Washington Post, "The batty, explosive history of bats in the military — and why this new idea just might work," 2 July 2018 More maverick are variations of sour cream spiked with, by turns, raw garlic, Sriracha, chipotle, horseradish and pickled jalapeño, each with its own clarifying flare. New York Times, "Modern Russian Dumplings That Nod to the Past," 26 Apr. 2018 Addie Ulrey writes a new play for Ragged Wing Ensemble about a Montana town where everyone eats the dust of the American cowboy archetype — except for one maverick 13-year-old with other ideas. San Francisco Chronicle, "SFChronicle critics’ picks: What to do the week of April 1," 28 Mar. 2018 Dianne Benson, a maverick 1980s retailer, can take some credit for establishing Soho as a fashion destination. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Dianne Benson, A Maverick Retailer in 1980s New York, Talks Fashion, Art, and Collaborators Like David Wojnarowicz and Cindy Sherman," 13 July 2018

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


1867, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1886, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for maverick


Samuel A. Maverick †1870 American pioneer who did not brand his calves


see maverick entry 1

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Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for maverick

The first known use of maverick was in 1867

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English Language Learners Definition of maverick

: a person who refuses to follow the customs or rules of a group

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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