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[wahyld-kat] /ˈwaɪldˌkæt/
noun, plural wildcats (especially collectively) wildcat for 1–4.
any of several North American felines of the genus Lynx.
Compare lynx.
a yellowish-gray, black-striped feline, Felis sylvestris, of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, resembling and closely related to the domestic cat, with which it interbreeds freely.
a closely related feline, Felis sylvestris libyca, of northern Africa, believed to be the ancestor of the domestic cat.
any of several other of the smaller felines, as the serval or ocelot.
a domestic cat that has become feral.
a quick-tempered or savage person.
Railroads. a single locomotive operating without a train, as one switching cars.
an exploratory well drilled in an effort to discover deposits of oil or gas; a prospect well.
a reckless or unsound enterprise, business, etc.
Informal. wildcatter (def 2).
Nautical. a shaped drum on a windlass, engaging with the links of an anchor chain.
Informal. wildcat strike.
characterized by or proceeding from reckless or unsafe business methods:
wildcat companies; wildcat stocks.
of or relating to an illicit enterprise or product.
running without control or regulation, as a locomotive, or apart from the regular schedule, as a train.
verb (used without object), wildcatted, wildcatting.
to search an area of unknown or doubtful productivity for oil, ore, or the like, especially as an independent prospector.
Slang. to engage in a wildcat strike.
verb (used with object), wildcatted, wildcatting.
to search (an area of unknown or doubtful productivity) for oil, ore, or the like.
Origin of wildcat
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English wilde cat; compare Middle Low German wildkatte Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wildcat
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At eleven o'clock that morning the fat bad actor confessed, and in his confession the wildcat was cleared.

    Lady Luck Hugh Wiley
  • "I don't mean to be tied up like a wildcat," said the captain doggedly.

  • A wildcat might at any moment be seen watching from the crotch of a tree, or a bear might suddenly emerge from the thicket.

    The Girl From Tim's Place Charles Clark Munn
  • They'd a' been at wildcat last Friday ef we hedn't skeered 'em so.

    The Red Acorn John McElroy
  • If he ever wakes up right we'll have a wildcat on our hands.

    The Young Forester Zane Grey
  • A wildcat, as yet superless, screamed its envy from a cliff a half a mile away.

    The Red Acorn John McElroy
  • All the stevedore crew were members of the wildcat's own race.

    Lady Luck Hugh Wiley
  • I'm not afraid of anything; but I'm not going to put my head in the wildcat's mouth.

    Seek and Find Oliver Optic
  • It was "wildcat Rag," and Milton struck the outspread newspaper with his clenched fist.

    Elkan Lubliner, American Montague Glass
British Dictionary definitions for wildcat


noun (pl) -cats, -cat
a wild European cat, Felis silvestris, that resembles the domestic tabby but is larger and has a bushy tail
any of various other felines, esp of the genus Lynx, such as the lynx and the caracal
(US & Canadian) another name for bobcat
(informal) a savage or aggressive person
an exploratory drilling for petroleum or natural gas
(US & Canadian) an unsound commercial enterprise
(US & Canadian) a railway locomotive in motion without drawing any carriages or wagons Also called (in Britain and certain other countries) light engine
(modifier) (US & Canadian)
  1. of or relating to an unsound business enterprise: wildcat stock
  2. financially or commercially unsound: a wildcat project
(modifier) (US & Canadian) (of a train) running without permission or outside the timetable
verb -cats, -catting, -catted
(intransitive) to drill for petroleum or natural gas in an area having no known reserves
Derived Forms
wildcatting, noun, adjective
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 wildcat

early 15c., from wild (adj.) + cat (n.). Meaning "savage woman" is recorded from 1570s; sense of "one who forms rash projects" is attested from 1812. The adjective in the financial speculative sense is first recorded 1838, American English.

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



Madly exuberant; untamed; crazy, wild: Shepard tops himself as a wild-ass country boy/ and for goddamned sure a wild-assed warrior/ Ijah was a kind of wild-ass type

[1960s+; an example of the use of ass, ''the whole person'']

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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