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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Other local legends hold that the desert is haunted by screaming ghosts or stalked by a phantom wolf. New York Times, "A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens," 28 Dec. 2020 The grey wolf, known as Zhùr by locals, was discovered in Yukon, Canada, near Dawson City, according to a study published in Current Biology. Chris Ciaccia, Fox News, "New details unveiled about 57,000-year-old wolf pup discovered frozen solid," 24 Dec. 2020 The pup was named Zhùr, meaning ‘wolf’ in the Hän language, by the local Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people. Samantha Hernandez, USA TODAY, "57,000-year-old wolf mummy found frozen in Canada, researchers study ancient pup's life," 22 Dec. 2020 The 8-year-old, who arrived at the center in July 2012, was always a low-ranking wolf — a follower rather than an alpha. Staff Reports Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Minnesota briefs: Duluth's public golf courses racking up losses again," 5 Dec. 2020 The male, likely the last native wolf on the island, was found dead in 2018. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, "As smaller wolves die, huge wolves from Ontario establish packs on Isle Royale," 19 Dec. 2020 But Linden uses that premise as the jumping-off point for a surprising and often repulsively gory story, which kicks into high gear when Joseph tracks the wolf and discovers several dismembered bodies, clearly tortured and murdered by a human. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Nature has its say in gory and dramatic thriller ‘Hunter Hunter’," 17 Dec. 2020 The glowing eyes of a beaded black wolf stared from his apron. Doug Maccash | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "Mardi Gras Indians are in coronavirus limbo, which a Wild Man knows all too well," 15 Dec. 2020 The frightened wolf fled further than any other in her experience. Max G. Levy, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Non-Lethal Methods Encouraged by Science Can Keep Wolves From Killing Livestock," 11 Dec. 2020 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about wolf

Time Traveler for wolf

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for wolf

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Wolf.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wolf. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for wolf

wolf

noun
How to pronounce Wolf (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on wolf

What made you want to look up wolf? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!