wild·​cat | \ ˈwī(-ə)l(d)-ˌkat How to pronounce wildcat (audio) \
plural wildcats

Definition of wildcat

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : an Old World cat (Felis silvestris) that resembles but is heavier in build than the domestic tabby cat and is usually held to be among the ancestors of the domestic cat
b or plural wildcat : any of various small or medium-sized cats (such as the lynx or ocelot)
c : a feral domestic cat
2 : a savage quick-tempered person
3a : wildcat money
b : a wildcat oil or gas well
c : a wildcat strike



Definition of wildcat (Entry 2 of 3)

1a(1) : issued by a financially irresponsible banking establishment wildcat currency
(2) : financially irresponsible or unreliable wildcat banks
b : operating, produced, or carried on outside the bounds of standard or legitimate business practices wildcat insurance schemes— H. H. Reichard
c : of, relating to, or being an oil or gas well drilled in territory not known to be productive
d : initiated by a group of workers without formal union approval or in violation of a contract a wildcat strike wildcat work stoppages
2a of a cartridge : having a bullet of standard caliber but using an expanded case or a case designed for a bullet of greater caliber necked down for the smaller bullet
b of a firearm : using wildcat cartridges


wildcatted; wildcatting

Definition of wildcat (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to prospect and drill an experimental oil or gas well or sink a mine shaft in territory not known to be productive

Examples of wildcat in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Brown had a 10-year NFL career that included a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2006, a Pro Bowl invitation in 2008 and a brief stint as a league trendsetter as a wildcat quarterback. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 17 Apr. 2022 But new observations suggest that the bobcat, a wildcat native to Florida, might be able to help. New York Times, 28 Mar. 2022 Henry scored on a 3-yard run after taking a wildcat snap with 6:07 left in the first half. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 22 Jan. 2022 Although the Nicholson menagerie produced several more animal escapes over the years, including a wildcat that made its way into a neighbor’s hen house, Nicholson lived and worked on Division Street until his death in 1926 at the age of 66. Joy Wallace Dickinson, orlandosentinel.com, 24 Oct. 2021 Arabian sand gazelle, mountain gazelle, sand cat, or Gordon’s wildcat too. Johanna Read, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2021 Henry started and scored on a 3-yard touchdown out of the wildcat. orlandosentinel.com, 23 Jan. 2022 On first-and-goal, Henry lined up in the wildcat, took the snap and scored, to the delight of the home crowd that had been calling his name. New York Times, 22 Jan. 2022 Running back Michael Carter lined up in the wildcat — with Wilson behind the right guard — took the direct snap and flipped it to wide receiver Braxton Berrios, who went in untouched around the right end. Dennis Waszak Jr., courant.com, 2 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Entering with an 0-8 record against FBS opponents, the Golden Eagles turned to an unorthodox approach, moving star running back Frank Gore Jr. to quarterback in a wildcat-style offense. Greg Luca, San Antonio Express-News, 12 Dec. 2021 With traditional May Day labor marches curtailed by strict limits on public gatherings, Turkish protesters attempted to stage a wildcat demonstration. Elena Becatoros, Time, 1 May 2020 At Santa Cruz — where the protests began three months ago with a wildcat grading strike that ended in the dismissal of some student workers — students blocked entrances to campus. Nina Agrawal, Los Angeles Times, 7 Mar. 2020 In wildcat form, the .454 Casull has been around nearly as long as the .44 Magnum, but it wasn't popularized commercially until the late '90s. Field & Stream, 17 Sep. 2019 With three tight ends in instead, wildcat quarterback Seth Green was stuffed on third and 2. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, 1 Dec. 2019 Police and demonstrators clashed in at least six districts on Tuesday, with wildcat protests bringing chaos and disruption to neighborhoods on Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. James Griffiths, CNN, 1 Oct. 2019 One of the many attributes of the .308 Winchester is the fact that its case has served as the basis for a host of other cartridges of both the factory and wildcat variety. Mike Dickerson, Field & Stream, 22 Jan. 2020 The use of mercury in the wildcat camps results in devastating effects on health and the environment. Richard C. Paddock, New York Times, 30 Dec. 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wildcat.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wildcat


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1838, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)


circa 1903, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of wildcat was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near wildcat

wild carrot


wildcat strike

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Last Updated

1 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wildcat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wildcat. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for wildcat


wild·​cat | \ ˈwīld-ˌkat How to pronounce wildcat (audio) \

Kids Definition of wildcat

: a wild animal (as an ocelot or lynx) of the cat family that is of small or medium size

More from Merriam-Webster on wildcat

Nglish: Translation of wildcat for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wildcat


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