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 \ : 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

International trade policies and fuel prices are wild cards that could throw a wrench in it all though—possibly driving up prices and driving down the number of flights. Kristen Leigh Painter, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Air Travel Will Change in 2019," 13 Dec. 2018 Another wild card in this dynamic is rising interest rates, which are once again approaching 5 percent. Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "Home prices have finally hit a wall on the West Coast," 16 Oct. 2018 At 7-5, with a head-to-head win over Carolina, and a big game looming against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, the Seahawks are poised to steal an NFC West wild card spot. Seattle Times Sports Staff, The Seattle Times, "12 p.m. | Seahawks live chat with Bob Condotta," 4 Dec. 2018 The people watching at the designer’s collections is always epic and amid supermodels, editors, and Hollywood royalty, Ford always throws in a wild card. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Tom Ford’s Biggest Front Row Surprise? A New Fashion-Forward Princess," 6 Sep. 2018 Unless, of course, the judges decide to bring them back as a wild card. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The 'America's Got Talent' Quarterfinals Results Are in and They're Very Controversial," 23 Aug. 2018 Some of the best transitional pieces have a wild card appeal, like a bathing suit that can later act as a chic bodysuit. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "The Best Summer Whites to Take Into Fall," 10 Aug. 2018 The Blue Jackets advanced to the playoffs as the first wild card and the Capitals as the top team out of the Metropolitan Division. Branson Wright, cleveland.com, "Columbus Blue Jackets open Stanley Cup playoffs vs. Washington Capitals on Thursday (photos)," 10 Apr. 2018 What this means: Though PCs have continued to defy expectations and maintain flat to slight sales growth—overall shipments increased 0.1 percent this quarter, Gartner says—the wild card will be Intel and its available CPUs. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft cracks the top 5 U.S. PC vendors, but Intel CPU shortages could bring more change," 11 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for wild card

Last Updated

1 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for wild card

The first known use of wild card was in 1971

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on wild card

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wild card

Spanish Central: Translation of wild card

Nglish: Translation of wild card for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wild card

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