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

The real wild card here: the Air Force is asking for eight F-15EX fighters, part of a goal of buying 80 through 2024. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon’s 2020 Budget Asks for Nearly 380 Aircraft, But One Buy Is Raising Eyebrows," 13 Mar. 2019 The wild cards The argument for: There are a few players the Chargers could take who are almost universally being selected later than No. Dan Woike, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Chargers have arguments for & against several possible draft picks," 25 Apr. 2018 With the Trump-Kim summit back on track for June 12 in Singapore, China’s growing role is now a wild card in the dizzying diplomacy about denuclearization on the Korean peninsula. Don Lee, latimes.com, "What China wants from a U.S.-North Korea summit — and why it makes Trump nervous," 4 June 2018 Obviously, all four games were big as Milwaukee snapped a 26-year playoff drought and won the wild card by one game. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ranking the Brewers' 14 walk-off wins against the St. Louis Cardinals," 25 June 2018 The Twins are just a game back and, with the East and West divisions both top-heavy, Cleveland can more or less kiss off the wild card already. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Cubs-Indians: Five stark differences since their 2016 World Series showdown," 22 May 2018 Philadelphia extended its points streak to six games (3-0-3) and remained two points ahead of New Jersey for the Eastern Conference’s top wild card. star-telegram, "OT goal gives Stars a rare gulp of victory during a parched March | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 27 Mar. 2018 Gabriel’s conversation has smartly set up Negan as a potential ally in the upcoming fight, albeit a wild card with his own intentions. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Walking Dead’s midseason finale got the show back on track," 26 Nov. 2018 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

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

10 May 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

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).


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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