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

The ways of the wolf predate the founding of this republic. Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey, Twin Cities, "Wendell Nii Laryea Adjetey: Why now is the moment to atone for 400 years of racism," 28 July 2019 The remaining wolves in the Smoky Mountains were taken to the North Carolina refuge in 1998. National Geographic, "Red wolves," 27 July 2019 Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Monday that biologists are working to confirm a public report of a wolf in Jackson County. Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post, "Two reported wolf sightings in Colorado being investigated by state wildlife officials," 8 July 2019 Until then, Libra is like a centralized wolf in a decentralized sheep’s clothing. Joe Lubin, Quartz, "Facebook’s cryptocurrency is a centralized wolf in decentralized sheep’s clothing," 21 June 2019 In a city that was swarming with highly seasoned players—wolves in sheep’s clothing who would willingly steal your heart and/or your money—my date was a bumbling amateur hustler who couldn’t charm his way out of a paper bag. Chioma Nnadi, Vogue, "After 10 Years of Dating in New York, This Is What I’ve Learned," 11 Feb. 2019 According to National Geographic, stunning new calculations show that in the Arctic tundra, arctic wolf spiders outweigh arctic wolves in biomass by a ratio of 80 to 1. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Arctic Wolf Spiders Are Getting Bigger and It Could Slow Part of Climate Change," 24 July 2018 With China to the south and Russia to the north, the country is still a place of wilds untamed, from wolves in the Ural mountains to the thirsty expanses of the Gobi, where necessary supplies always travel with you. Jason Harper, Condé Nast Traveler, "On the Hunt for Dinosaur Bones in the Gobi Desert," 20 July 2018 Beth says that while chasing after wolves in her dress. Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Yellowstone': TV Review," 18 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The new Soviet elite continued to wolf haute cuisine with the same élan as their vodka-swilling Czarist predecessors. Jim Kempton, Orange County Register, "Follow the French: A look at the French influence on cuisine around the world," 2 Aug. 2019 Outward Hound slow feeders Slow feeders make a game out of mealtime, which both stimulates dog's brains and helps avoid tummy troubles from wolfing down meals. Amy Roberts, USA TODAY, "The very best Prime Day deals for pet owners," 15 July 2019 The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs. Ali Swenson, chicagotribune.com, "Joey ‘Jaws’ Chestnut stomachs 71 hot dogs to win the annual Nathan’s contest at Coney Island," 4 July 2019 News item: Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut wolfed down 71 hot dogs in 10 minutes Thursday to win his 12th title in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Coney Island boardwalk, but fell three franks short of his own record. Peter Schmuck, baltimoresun.com, "Schmuck stops: Orioles' Mancini stays snubbed, Knicks still the Knicks, Joey Chestnut still the top dog," 5 July 2019 The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs. Ali Swenson, Houston Chronicle, "We have a wiener! Joey Chestnut eats 71 hot dogs for title," 4 July 2019 The 33-year-old fell short of her total last year of 37 frankfurters but earned her sixth consecutive title by easily beating runner-up Michelle Lesco, who wolfed down 26 hot dogs. CBS News, "Joey Chestnut, Miki Sudo defend titles at Fourth of July hot dog eating contest," 4 July 2019 The Avengers: Endgame star was back on his workout grind days after tying the knot with Katherine Schwarzenegger – and wolfing down an oversized helping of wedding cake. Rachel Desantis, PEOPLE.com, "Chris Pratt Jokes He Ate '12 lbs. of Wedding Cake' After Marrying Katherine Schwarzenegger," 12 June 2019 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

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

6 Aug 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

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