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wild card

Cards. a card having its value decided by the wishes of the players.
a determining or important person or thing whose qualities are unknown, indeterminate, or unpredictable:
In a sailboat race the weather is the wild card.
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.


[wahyld-kahrd] /ˈwaɪldˌkɑrd/
of, constituting, or including a wild card.
Informal. of, being, or including an unpredictable or unproven element, person, item, etc.
Sports. of, being, or including an unseeded or unproven participant or team, as a team in a championship tournament that has not placed first in its league or area.
1955-60 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wild card
  • But the biggest wild card in the diet game may be how you crank out insulin.
  • With a second wild card playoff berth on its way, there may be slightly more forgiveness in the future.
  • Wouldn't necessarily name the mystery wild card, but could tell it from the big three.
  • The horn remains the wild card in period-instrument orchestras, and in modern ones too.
  • The last hours of the regular season, when the sands ran so quickly on the wild card races.
British Dictionary definitions for wild card

wild card

See wild (sense 14)
(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
an unpredictable element in a situation
(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 card

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 card

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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wild card in Technology
operating system, programming, text
(From card games in which certain cards, often the joker, can act as any other card) A special character or character sequence which matches any character in a string comparison, like ellipsis ("...") in ordinary written text.
In Unix filenames '?' matches any single character and '*' matches any zero or more characters. In regular expressions, '.' matches any one character and "[...]" matches any one of the enclosed characters.
See also Backus-Naur Form.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Idioms and Phrases with wild card

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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