wolf

noun, often attributive
\ ˈwu̇lf How to pronounce wolf (audio) , ÷ˈwu̇f\
plural wolves\ ˈwu̇lvz How to pronounce wolves (audio) , ÷ˈwu̇vz \

Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 plural also wolf

a : any of several large predatory canids (genus Canis) that are active mostly at night, live and hunt in packs, and resemble the related dogs especially : gray wolf

Note: Wolves have long been viewed as threats to livestock and people resulting in significant worldwide declines in their numbers and range size due to persistent eradication efforts (as by hunting, trapping, and poisoning).

b : the fur of a wolf
2a(1) : a fierce, rapacious, or destructive person
(2) : a man forward, direct, and zealous in amatory attentions to women
b : dire poverty : starvation keep the wolf from the door
c : the maggot of a warble fly

3 [ German; from the howling sound ]

a(1) : dissonance in some chords on organs, pianos, or other instruments with fixed tones tuned by unequal temperament
(2) : an instance of such dissonance
b : a harshness due to faulty vibration in various tones in a bowed instrument
wolf in sheep's clothing
: one who cloaks a hostile intention with a friendly manner

wolf

verb
wolfed; wolfing; wolfs

Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

: to eat greedily : devour

Wolf

biographical name (1)
\ ˈvȯlf How to pronounce Wolf (audio) \

Definition of Wolf (Entry 3 of 4)

Friedrich August 1759–1824 German philologist

Wolf

biographical name (2)

Definition of Wolf (Entry 4 of 4)

Hugo Philipp Jakob 1860–1903 Austrian composer

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Other Words from wolf

Noun

wolflike \ ˈwu̇lf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wolflike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of wolf in a Sentence

Noun

no sooner had the lottery winner's name been made public than the wolves with their investment schemes showed up on her doorstep

Verb

the way you wolf your food it's no wonder you have intestinal distress

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Green Room’s Jeremy Saulnier directs this story about a man (Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright) who is called in to find a child that has been abducted by a pack of wolves. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "New trailers: Suspiria, Slice, and Hold the Dark," 25 Aug. 2018 Chrissy also had a very helpful chart of when people could go outside and watch it (thanks Chrissy!): Super duper blood wolf blood super moon tonight! Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Jenna Dewan, Ariana Grande, Chrissy Teigen, and More React to the Super Wolf Blood Moon," 21 Jan. 2019 Here, our roster of wolf-worthy sheep’s clothing, for the hottest cold weather adventures. Madeline Fass, Vogue, "The Shearling Coat Is the Epitome of Carnal Cool—7 Timeless Reasons Why," 1 Nov. 2018 But rhinos, as herbivores, would have different needs than wolves. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Devastating Tsunami Threatens Endangered Rhinos," 28 Dec. 2018 If wolves are rare enough the wood, or even straw house (presumably cheap and very cheap) might’ve been ex ante optimal. James Freeman, WSJ, "More Hurricane Arguments," 14 Sep. 2018 The zoo’s red wolf pack has bred nine pups over the past three years and has successfully bred 29 wolves since the program began. Abbie Bennett, charlotteobserver, "5 critically endangered red wolf pups born at NC Zoo during storms, tornado | Charlotte Observer," 2 May 2018 The lineup is killer, and this wolf is extra psyched for dream-pop band Fauvely, rapper Freddie Old Soul, and R&B singer Jordanna. Leor Galil, Chicago Reader, "Sunshine Boys pool decades of indie-rock experience on Blue Music," 3 Apr. 2018 The wolf was a female, Paul said, that the DFW had collared. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, "On the trail of tracks, shadows and a wolf," 25 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The driver of a Pepsi truck, wolfing pizza with the engine going, spots Pakenham’s raised phone, drops the pizza, and pulls back into traffic. Elizabeth Royte, Daily Intelligencer, "George Pakenham is waging a one-man war on air pollution on the Upper West Side.," 10 July 2018 Can the decision to wolf down two doughnuts — and then shake out the decorative curls of chocolate that collect in the bottom of the bag and eat those, too — really be foretold by something deep in my family’s DNA? Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Will my genes doom my young daughter to a weight problem?," 31 Jan. 2018 Most wolfing periods last somewhere between 4 to 6 weeks, but have been known to go up to 12. Alexander-julian Gibbson, GQ, "How to Get Waves," 25 May 2018 Bruce Arians couldn’t wait to wolf down a quick breakfast, shake some hands and pose for some pictures, and then hit the golf course Saturday morning. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians deciding between two NFL analyst jobs," 14 Apr. 2018 Ballmer may be the only pro sports team owner who’d be willing to do this: Sure, the Rockets won and James Harden got this highlight that completely embarrassed the Clippers, but at least the fans got to see Ballmer attempt to wolf down hot dogs. Alysha Tsuji, For The Win, "Steve Ballmer lost hot dog eating contest and launched hot dogs into Clippers crowd," 1 Mar. 2018 One explanation is waste, with patients wolfing down too many pills and administrators churning out red tape. The Economist, "Which firms profit most from America’s health-care system," 15 Mar. 2018 As mostly solitary hunters rather than pack animals, like dogs, cats don’t have to wolf their food down to be sure to get their share. C. Claiborne Ray, New York Times, "Feline Foodies," 12 Feb. 2018 View Sample Sign Up Now Compared to those who wolfed down their food quickly, those who ate at a normal speed were 29% less likely to be obese. Amanda Macmillan, Time, "Here's Why Eating More Slowly May Help You Lose Weight," 12 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wolf.' 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 wolf

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1862, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wolf

Noun

Middle English, from Old English wulf; akin to Old High German wolf wolf, Latin lupus, Greek lykos

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Statistics for wolf

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wolf

The first known use of wolf was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for wolf

wolf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a large wild animal that is similar to a dog and that often hunts in groups

wolf

verb

English Language Learners Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to eat (something) very quickly

wolf

noun
\ ˈwu̇lf How to pronounce wolf (audio) \
plural wolves\ ˈwu̇lvz \

Kids Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a large bushy-tailed wild animal that resembles the related domestic dog, eats meat, and often lives and hunts in packs
2 : a crafty or fierce person

Other Words from wolf

wolfish \ ˈwu̇l-​fish \ adjective

wolf

verb
wolfed; wolfing

Kids Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to eat fast or greedily

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More from Merriam-Webster on wolf

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wolf

Spanish Central: Translation of wolf

Nglish: Translation of wolf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wolf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wolf

Comments on wolf

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