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

In Anchorage, the library lends out taxidermy items, including bear and wolf fur, apparently popular in Boy Scout ceremonies. Martin Wolk, latimes.com, "Why Susan Orlean sees a bright future for public libraries," 20 June 2019 In subtropical and tropical waters, freedivers might encounter aggressive Moray eels, but the wolf eels off the California coast aren’t known to bite divers. Nick Rahaim, SFChronicle.com, "Without abalone, spearfishing hooks North Coast anglers," 17 June 2019 Wild wolves usually don’t live past age 5, often because they’re injured while hunting. David Grimm, Science | AAAS, "This diseased spine may hold clues to early dog-human relationship," 14 June 2019 The Ice Age-era wolf’s head, with its perfectly intact brain, is being further examined and investigated. Matt Mcnulty, PEOPLE.com, "40,000-Year-Old Preserved Wolf's Head from Ice Age Discovered in Siberia," 14 June 2019 Conversely, rival agent C (Rafe Spall) dislikes H’s lone-wolf tactics. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite for eerily bland Men in Black: International: EW review," 12 June 2019 In the wild, as much as 50 percent of a wolf’s diet may consist of plants. Brian Kateman, Quartz, "Vegan pets sound bougie, but they might just save the Earth," 12 June 2019 Today, the average wolf head measures between 9 and 11 inches in length. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Whoa, Look at This 40,000-Year-Old Wolf Head," 11 June 2019 But that, unfortunately, wasn't the only pet tragedy: There was also a heartbreaking scene in which Jon Snow abandoned his loyal wolf companion, Ghost. Glamour, "This Game of Thrones Theory Explains Why Jon Snow Abandoned Ghost," 7 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Racing from point to point and wolfing down the sights may be the most authentic way to see New York—in keeping with the Weltgeist of the city—but the spirit of Paris is one of savoring details, of pausing between activities. Jay Mcinerney, Vogue, "Why, Oh Why Do I Love Paris? Jay McInerney Counted the Ways in a 1986 Story for Vogue, Republished Here in Solidarity With the French Capital, Where Notre-Dame Burned," 16 Apr. 2019 Veera and Suku are a great team: In between gorging themselves on buttery sweets such as laddus and jalebis, and wolfing down mango pickles with fried fish and rice, the two boys solve mysteries, expose swindlers and humble the arrogant. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales Told in Many Tongues," 3 Jan. 2019 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

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

25 Jun 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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