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 wildcard (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Pirates lost in the wild card game in both 2014 and 2015, then slipped to consecutive losing records before going 82-79 in 2018. Will Graves, chicagotribune.com, "Pirates agree to hire Ben Cherington, once Theo Epstein’s assistant with the Red Sox, as GM," 15 Nov. 2019 Those two bookend games, the win-or-go-home wild card game that launched the Nationals' October and the Game 7 start Wednesday night that ended it, had one thing in common: They were both started by Max Scherzer. Author: Dave Sheinin, Anchorage Daily News, "Nationals win first World Series title, storming back on Astros in Game 7," 31 Oct. 2019 The Brewers lost the 2018 NLCS to the Dodgers in seven games and the wild card game this season. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "The Nationals won the World Series, and now there are only six MLB teams without one," 31 Oct. 2019 The Oakland Athletics’ loss to Tampa Bay in the AL wild card game was the A’s ninth consecutive loss in winner-take-all games dating back to 1973.. Losing streaks are nothing new to the Twins franchise. Kevin Cusick, Twin Cities, "Twins’ playoff record adds to Minnesota’s postseason infamy," 5 Oct. 2019 The Nationals have a Big Three of their own, but their rotation was slightly compromised in their victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday in the wild card game. Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Walker Buehler downplays Game 1 start, but it’s a big deal," 2 Oct. 2019 In advance of Wednesday’s wild card game against the Rays, they were asked about each other — Matt on Matt. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: What’s a Muni ‘green zone’?," 2 Oct. 2019 Led by quarterback Russell Wilson and an improved offensive line and rushing attack, the Seahawks advanced to play in a wild card playoff game last season. oregonlive.com, "Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos in 2019 preseason opener: Time, score, TV channel, how to watch live stream online," 7 Aug. 2019 Silicon Valley, season two The wild card hanging over the industry is what the tech giants will do next. The Economist, "The future of entertainment," 14 Nov. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wild card

Time Traveler for wild card

Time Traveler

The first known use of wild card was in 1971

See more words from the same year

Statistics for wild card

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Wild card.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wild%20card. Accessed 6 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on wild card

What made you want to look up wild card? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


very cautious or careful

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!