wild card

noun

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

Their wild card is second-year player Mack Hollins. SI.com, "Fantasy Football Preseason Reports: A Scout’s Take on Every Team," 5 July 2018 The draft's biggest wild card is probably Zach Haake, a 6-foot-4 righty from Kentucky taken in the sixth round. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "The future of the Royals through the eyes of the man building it," 29 June 2018 The wild card in all of this is Jeff Sessions, the attorney general who was an early and vocal Trump supporter but who Trump now regrets appointing. Z. Byron Wolf, CNN, "The kiss of death in Trump's Cabinet is disagreeing with the boss," 3 Apr. 2018 The wild card in the equation might be freshman Brady Pope, who threw for more than 10,000 yards and completed 64.1 percent of his passes during his career at South Iredell High. David Scott, charlotteobserver, "Can Charlotte 49ers QB Hasaan Klugh hang on to his job?," 23 Mar. 2018 Trump will be as much of a wild card to Kim as Kim is to Trump. Washington Post, "Takeaways from Koreas summit: Kim’s smiles, Moon’s reception," 28 Apr. 2018 One last reliever The candidates: Pedro Araujo, José Mesa, Jimmy Yacabonis This spot is a bit of a wild card, though the Orioles have use for all three. Jon Meoli, baltimoresun.com, "Breaking down the Orioles' roster battles with two weeks to go until Opening Day," 14 Mar. 2018 There’s another wild card at play that could impact a possible work action at UPS: Donald Trump. Chris Morris, Fortune, "What Was It Like the Last Time UPS Went On Strike? And What's Different Today?," 7 June 2018 Trespassers, though, represent an unnerving wild card, rail officials say. Tony Bizjak, sacbee, "Capitol Corridor trains have been running late. It’s not because of freight traffic | The Sacramento Bee," 14 Apr. 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

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

noun

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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Comments on wild card

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