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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Isabelle is the bonkers wild card above all of those, surprisingly. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Smash Bros. Ultimate review: The best fighting game on any Nintendo system," 6 Dec. 2018 Instead, Seattle woke up Monday basically already left playing for the wild card, three games back of the Rams in the West, officially ninth in the NFC playoff picture (as of games Sunday). Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "The Final Word: Bob Condotta reviews what he got right and wrong about Seahawks vs. Rams," 9 Oct. 2018 LaBelle appeared on American Idol season 3 at the age of 17 after Paula Abdul selected the teen as her wild card pick to become one of the top 12 finalists, which included singers Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson. Nerisha Penrose, Billboard, "Leah LaBelle's 5 Best 'American Idol' Moments," 1 Feb. 2018 Thanks to their emotional wild card win against the Carolina Panthers, this already qualifies as a happy new year. Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com, "Saints, Drew Brees facing 'biggest challenge' with confidence, anticipation," 12 Jan. 2018 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

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

15 Mar 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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a shady place in a garden or forest

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