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

Definition of wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


wolfed; wolfing; wolfs

Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to eat greedily : devour

Other Words from wolf


wolflike \ ˈwu̇lf-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wolf (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 Wildlife biologists have been fielding reports since August of a wolf in the Upper Deschutes wildlife management unit, which straddles Klamath and Deschutes Counties, according to the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. oregonlive, 21 July 2022 The Saarloos Wolfdog is a cross between a German Shepherd and, well, a wolf. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 12 July 2022 The city's founders, Romulus and Remus, are seen nursing from a wolf. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 17 June 2022 Bheem is introduced with a training montage in the forest that sees him battle a tiger and a wolf. David Sims, The Atlantic, 7 June 2022 The thylacine looked somewhat like a small wolf with a distinctive striped back, jaws that opened 90 degrees and a pouch on its belly, like a kangaroo’s, for carrying young. Frances Vinall, Washington Post, 26 May 2022 Images on Google Maps show the mountain with a jutting peak, but not one shaped like a howling wolf. Emiliano Tahui Gómez, USA TODAY, 19 May 2022 Galaxy has been an investor in Luna, and in January Mr. Novogratz had tweeted a photo of his new tattoo: a wolf howling at a yellow moon. Justin Baer, WSJ, 18 May 2022 Yes, the 10th fragrance from Henry Rose is named after a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Celia Shatzman, Forbes, 13 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some of these guys wolf down rib eyes between pitches. Nick Canepacolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 July 2022 For the time being, project assistants buzz around with power tools and lots of questions, pausing occasionally to wolf down slices of pizza. Naomi Waxman, sun-sentinel.com, 14 July 2021 The letter also said there were cultural considerations that should be accounted for in a delisting, alluding to the opposition by some Native Americans to wolf hunting. Star Tribune, 19 Dec. 2020 Mexicano and my sisters and I would wolf it down whenever Mom made it. Anita L. Arambula, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Sep. 2020 Maestas said Catron County, New Mexico, long a holdout to wolf releases, has joined the conservation effort. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, 19 Mar. 2020 America is the world’s second-biggest meat market; the average American wolfs down more than 100kg a year. The Economist, 27 Feb. 2020 After wolfing down the food, Rojas said, the couple ordered 10 burritos to go before heading off to the flight back to Denver. Los Angeles Times, 2 Jan. 2020 The aliens are still out there, of course, and probably getting pretty hungry, having wolfed down so much of Earth's population in the first film. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 1 Jan. 2020 See More

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.

First Known Use of wolf


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


1862, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wolf


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

Learn More About wolf

Time Traveler for wolf

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near wolf

Wolds, The



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Statistics for wolf

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wolf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wolf. Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for wolf


\ 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


wolfed; wolfing

Kids Definition of wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

: to eat fast or greedily

Wolf biographical name (1)

\ ˈvȯlf How to pronounce Wolf (audio) \

Definition of Wolf

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Friedrich August 1759–1824 German philologist


biographical name (2)

Definition of Wolf (Entry 2 of 2)

Hugo Philipp Jakob 1860–1903 Austrian composer

More from Merriam-Webster on wolf

Nglish: Translation of wolf for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wolf for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wolf


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