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.
Recent Examples on the Web The one wild card that could raise gasoline prices is if major hurricanes hit the US refineries and oil platforms along the Gulf Coast. Matt Egan And Chris Isidore, CNN, 17 May 2022 One potential wild card is how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation votes its large block of Berkshire shares, which Mr. Buffett donated to the nonprofit over years. New York Times, 25 Apr. 2022 One wild card in the negotiations is that both the U.S. House and Senate have passed separate provisions calling for the delisting process be sped up. Robert Schmidt, Bloomberg.com, 30 Mar. 2022 One additional wild card is absences because of illnesses. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 The wild card is how China will respond as the crisis drags on. NBC News, 6 Mar. 2022 One big wild card could be how many people show up for work in January and beyond. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 23 Dec. 2021 One potential wild card this week will be President Biden's decision on the next Federal Reserve chair. Harold Maass, The Week, 22 Nov. 2021 Entering Friday, the league-wide ERA was 3.81, which is the second-lowest since the introduction of the wild card in 1995. Christian Richey, WSJ, 14 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near wild card

wild caraway

wild card

wild carrot

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Statistics for wild card

Last Updated

28 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wild card.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild%20card. Accessed 25 Jun. 2022.

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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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