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wild card

noun
1.
Cards. a card having its value decided by the wishes of the players.
2.
a determining or important person or thing whose qualities are unknown, indeterminate, or unpredictable:
In a sailboat race the weather is the wild card.
3.
Tennis. a player, usually without ranking, who is allowed to enter a tournament at the discretion of the tournament committee after regularly qualifying competitors have been selected.
Origin
1530-1540
1530-40
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for wild cards

wild card

noun
1.
See wild (sense 14)
2.
(sport) a player or team that has not qualified for a competition but is allowed to take part, at the organizers' discretion, after all the regular places have been taken
3.
an unpredictable element in a situation
4.
(computing) a symbol that can represent any character or group of characters, as in a filename
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wild cards

wild card

n.

1927, in figurative sense, from literal use in poker, from wild (adj.) + card (n.). Sports team sense first recorded 1959.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wild cards

wild and woolly

adjective phrase

Crude and raucous; untamed; uncouth: a couple of good old country boys having a wild and woolly time

[1884+; fr an alliterating phrase wild and woolly West, the woolly perhaps referring to range steers, to range horses, or to the unkempt heads of cowboys and frontiersmen]


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with wild cards

wild card

An unpredictable person or event, as in Don't count on his support—he's a wild card, or A traffic jam? That's a wild card we didn't expect. This expression comes from card games, especially poker, where it refers to a card that can stand for any rank chosen by the player who holds it. The term was adopted in sports for an additional player or team chosen to take part in a contest after the regular places have been taken. It is also used in computer terminology for a symbol that stands for one or more characters in searches for files that share a common specification. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1900s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Word Value for wild

8
9
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