mav·​er·​ick | \ ˈmav-rik How to pronounce maverick (audio) , 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



Definition of maverick (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Did You Know?


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

Noun 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 Adjective 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 True to form, the maverick Ellington rejected this norm, instead combining here a single trumpet and trombone—each using a mute and avoiding vibrato—with a clarinet. John Edward Hasse, WSJ, "A Sapphire of Tonal Brilliance," 16 Oct. 2020 To become Pennsylvania's most-senior Republican office-holder, Toomey had to go from party maverick to party stalwart. Marc Levy, Star Tribune, "Toomey won't run for Senate again, or governor, source says," 4 Oct. 2020 Until, that is, a maverick hypnotizes himself into believing his own too-good-to-be-true promises. Ralph Benko, Fortune, "Donald Trump is a master of hypnotism. How he used the power on America—and then himself," 27 Sep. 2020 Chief Justice John Roberts may be the nominal boss and the swing vote, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be the unlikely octogenarian pop icon and Justice Neil Gorsuch the newest conservative maverick. Noah Feldman Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "So it's Elena Kagan's court now?," 28 Aug. 2020 John McCain was a maverick in the Senate, but Barack Obama was cool everywhere else. al, "This election is different," 23 Aug. 2020 This white-bearded maverick helped César Chávez organize grape boycotts in Texas in the 1970s, became a Unitarian Universalist minister in the 1980s and ran a jazz club in Mexico in the 2000s. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: Green Party hopeful forced off the ballot in U.S. District 21," 21 Aug. 2020 And that's nearly what happens in the opening moments of Scream, Bbt Barrymore and horror maverick Wes Craven had another idea. Omar Sanchez,, "Drew Barrymore explains why she fought to have her Scream character die right away," 20 Aug. 2020 Oak Cliff’s maverick spirit showed no signs of softening over the years and even flirted with secession in the early 1990s. Alyssa Fernandez, Dallas News, "Oak Cliff, Texas: Luxury homes and an amusement park, Dallas’ reminder to not forget the other side of the Trinity," 15 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Unfortunately, this group of maverick outsiders includes virtually the entire American media establishment and most sitting politicians in one of our two major political parties. Matthew Walther, TheWeek, "Twitter's election meddling," 15 Oct. 2020 Into that void has stepped Atlas, who has relied on the maverick scientists to bolster his in-house arguments. Joel Achenbach, Anchorage Daily News, "Proposal to hasten herd immunity grabs White House attention, appalls top scientists," 13 Oct. 2020 Anti-politics was an important reason for the rise of the maverick Five Star Movement (M5S), which sponsored the reform. The Economist, "Circus minimised Italians vote for fewer, better politicians," 26 Sep. 2020 Reni Santoni, who starred in Carl Reiner's semi-autobiographical movie Enter Laughing and played the rookie partner of Clint Eastwood's maverick detective in Dirty Harry, has died. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, "Reni Santoni, Actor in 'Enter Laughing' and 'Dirty Harry,' Dies at 82," 3 Aug. 2020 Danon's maverick ways pushed Netanyahu to fire him from his position as deputy defense minister in 2014. Aron Heller, Star Tribune, "Returning UN envoy: Israel won't suffer for tight Trump ties," 28 July 2020 During Rich DotCom's second appearance on Blindspot, the maverick hacker goes on a mission with the team and double-crosses them with his boyfriend Boston Arlis Crab (Josh Dean). Alamin Yohannes,, "Blindspot cast members pick their favorite twists," 2 July 2020 Others, most notoriously the maverick Canadian genius Glenn Gould, have shunned the limelight to pursue icy perfection in solitude. The Economist, "Crossover stars Vikingur Olafsson is revitalising classical music," 16 June 2020 He has been widely described as a maverick researcher disinterested in personal recognition who simply wanted to give babies to those who couldn’t make them on their own. Osagie K. Obasogie, Scientific American, "Commentary: The Eugenics Legacy of the Nobelist Who Fathered IVF," 4 Oct. 2013

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

Noun and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for maverick

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The first known use of maverick was in 1867

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Last Updated

26 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Maverick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for maverick


How to pronounce maverick (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of maverick

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

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