fe·​ral ˈfir-əl How to pronounce feral (audio)
ˈfe-rəl How to pronounce feral (audio)
: of, relating to, or suggestive of a wild beast
feral teeth
feral instincts
: not domesticated or cultivated : wild
feral animals
: having escaped from domestication and become wild
feral cats
feral noun
Choose the Right Synonym for feral

brutal, brutish, bestial, feral mean characteristic of an animal in nature, action, or instinct.

brutal applies to people, their acts, or their words and suggests a lack of intelligence, feeling, or humanity.

a senseless and brutal war

brutish stresses likeness to an animal in low intelligence, in base appetites, and in behavior based on instinct.

brutish stupidity

bestial suggests a state of degradation unworthy of humans and fit only for beasts.

bestial depravity

feral suggests the savagery or ferocity of wild animals.

the struggle to survive unleashed their feral impulses

Examples of feral in a Sentence

They led a feral existence. animal experts discourage homeowners from trying to adopt feral animals as pets
Recent Examples on the Web According to an Instagram post from the organization, a person can donate $50 to the shelter to have a feral cat named after their ex — and then neutered. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2024 The actress attacks the role with her typical intensity, portraying Lorna as a sort of feral animal in human form, alternately mocked and feared, pitied and scorned. Chris Vognar, New York Times, 18 Jan. 2024 At his Vegas shows, the energy inside the (typically 85 percent female) audience is probably best described as affectionately feral. Alessandra Codinha, Vogue, 17 Jan. 2024 After the 2017 film showed Caesar leading his kind to an oasis, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes picks up with numerous ape societies continuing to thrive, while humans have been reduced to a nearly feral existence. Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Jan. 2024 Maeve was also feral—completely unsocialized—and very afraid. Jonathan Franzen, The New Yorker, 25 Dec. 2023 Away from Gaza, Hamas and its allies showed their nature as feral outlaws. Daniel Foster, National Review, 30 Nov. 2023 An assassin who attacks Adam at a gas station is outfitted in a cyberpunk ensemble; another is a feral Aussie with huge mutton chops. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2024 Newsletter Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news A feral kitten in Omaha, Nebraska, tested positive for rabies in November 2023. Discover Magazine, 9 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'feral.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Medieval Latin feralis, from Latin fera wild animal, from feminine of ferus wild — more at fierce

First Known Use

1604, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of feral was in 1604

Dictionary Entries Near feral

Cite this Entry

“Feral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feral. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


fe·​ral ˈfir-əl How to pronounce feral (audio) ˈfer- How to pronounce feral (audio)
: having escaped from domestication and become wild
feral cats

More from Merriam-Webster on feral

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