wild card


Definition of wild card

1 : an unknown or unpredictable factor
2 : one picked to fill a leftover playoff or tournament berth after regularly qualifying competitors have all been determined
3 usually wildcard \ ˈwī(-​ə)l(d)-​ˌkärd How to pronounce wild card (audio) \ : a symbol (such as ? or *) used in a keyword database search to represent the presence of zero, one, or more than one unspecified characters

Examples of wild card in a Sentence

The joker is a wild card. Taxes are the wild card in this election. The team made it into the play-offs as the wild card.
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Recent Examples on the Web The Chinese companies developing COVID-19 vaccines remain a wild card in the supply issue. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "As COVID-19 vaccines emerge, a global waiting game begins," 15 Dec. 2020 As is frequently the case with these storms, the position of the rain-snow line is the biggest wild card and could set up close to Interstate 95, making for a very challenging forecast in the immediate D.C. area. Washington Post, "Winter storm possible next Wednesday in Mid-Atlantic, and D.C. may straddle rain-snow line," 11 Dec. 2020 Southlake Carroll may be the biggest playoff wild card in the state. Joseph Hoyt, Dallas News, "Previews and predictions for notable high school football games (Dec. 10-12), from bi-district matchups to state semifinals," 9 Dec. 2020 The question of whether Mr. Trump would support a final compromise remains a wild card. New York Times, "The Winds Have Shifted in Pandemic Aid Negotiations," 3 Dec. 2020 The Jaguars will again heavily on undrafted rookie James Robinson's running back, but Luton is a big wild card in getting the ball to their wide receivers to play off a strong rushing attack. Jeremy Cluff, The Arizona Republic, "Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars picks, predictions: Who wins Week 9 NFL game?," 4 Nov. 2020 The fifth-year senior, who has not played since December 2018, may be the wild card to just how good the Spartans can be this winter. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Burning questions for Michigan State basketball, including who takes Xavier Tillman's minutes?," 14 Oct. 2020 If the playoffs were today … The Seahawks (8-4) would be the NFC’s top wild card, which is new territory for all-pro safety Jamal Adams as he gets set to face his lowly former team on Sunday. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Washington Football Team's dominant D-line deserves its own special name," 14 Dec. 2020 Despite a 1-5 start, the 5-6 Vikings are just one game out of the seventh and final wild card in the NFC. Tim Bielik, cleveland, "Tyrod Taylor reportedly won’t file grievance against doctor who punctured his lung before a game: NFL news roundup," 3 Dec. 2020

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

1971, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wild card

wild card, playing card with arbitrarily determined value

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Time Traveler for wild card

Time Traveler

The first known use of wild card was in 1971

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Statistics for wild card

Last Updated

16 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wild card.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild%20card. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for wild card

wild card


English Language Learners Definition of wild card

: a playing card that can represent any other card in a game
: a person or thing that could affect a situation in a way that cannot be predicted : an unknown or unpredictable factor
sports : a player or team chosen to fill a place in a competition after the regularly qualified players or teams have all been decided

More from Merriam-Webster on wild card

Nglish: Translation of wild card for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wild card

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