wolf

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 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 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 Yet perhaps the most unexpected gift was handed to champions of the common wolf. The Economist, "Reviled to revered China has given up trying to eradicate wolves," 27 Feb. 2021 Schneider and Berkshire wrote the book as a warning to the public about what was happening and a call for concerted action to drive the wolf away from the schoolhouse door. Diane Ravitch, The New Republic, "The Bipartisan Assault on Public Schools," 25 Feb. 2021 The Jefferson County judge's ruling from last week required the DNR to establish a wolf hunting and trapping season this month. Scott Bauer, Star Tribune, "Wolf hunt approved in Wisconsin as legal fight continues," 15 Feb. 2021 But there is little place to hide from their main predator, the Arctic wolf. New York Times, "They’re Arctic Survivors. How Will They Adapt to Climate Change?," 11 Feb. 2021 In addition to not being part of the wolf’s evolutionary tribe, the dire wolf DNA also showed that the species’ lineage is separate from the other living branches of the canine evolutionary tree, including African jackals, coyotes and dogs. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dire Wolves Weren’t Actually Wolves, DNA Analysis Reveals," 15 Jan. 2021 Nearly every wolf now living in the Upper Midwest sprang from that small group. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, "A pack of wolves thrived near Minneapolis; how it died offers lessons for the future," 6 Feb. 2021 Since the beginning of the wolf release program in the late ‘90s, the population of wild wolves has grown by an average of 15% in the past 10 years. Anton L. Delgado, The Arizona Republic, "Phoenix Zoo sends Mexican gray wolves packing as officials survey imperiled species," 2 Feb. 2021 Nonetheless, extremism watchdog groups and former law-enforcement officials say there is still a threat from lone-wolf extremists who are inspired by such groups. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "Solo Extremists Might Pose Higher Risk Than Organized Groups," 16 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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, "Q&A with Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen," 19 Dec. 2020 Mexicano and my sisters and I would wolf it down whenever Mom made it. Anita L. Arambula, San Diego Union-Tribune, "An elevated riff on traditional chile verde," 16 Sep. 2020 Maestas said Catron County, New Mexico, long a holdout to wolf releases, has joined the conservation effort. Debra Utacia Krol, azcentral, "Mexican gray wolf population grows by 24% in the 2019 survey," 19 Mar. 2020 America is the world’s second-biggest meat market; the average American wolfs down more than 100kg a year. The Economist, "Africa’s beef with America Why African farmers struggle to export to the United States," 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, "Felix, Little Man and other beloved Los Angeles logos," 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, "Start the new year right with terrifying trailer for A Quiet Place: Part II," 1 Jan. 2020 And yes, my stomach hurts after wolfing down the whole thing in a matter of minutes. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "In the Age of Smash Burger Supremacy, the Office Burger Still Reigns," 6 Nov. 2019 In Netflix’s acclaimed new Martin Scorsese film The Irishman, vanished former Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) is shown wolfing down ice cream sundaes on three occasions. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Al Pacino explains Hoffa’s ice cream fixation in The Irishman," 28 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for wolf

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wolf

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wolf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wolf. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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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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