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[woo lf] /wʊlf/
noun, plural wolves
[woo lvz] /wʊlvz/ (Show IPA)
any of several large carnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, of the dog family Canidae, especially C. lupus, usually hunting in packs, formerly common throughout the Northern Hemisphere but now chiefly restricted to the more unpopulated parts of its range.
the fur of such an animal.
any of various wolflike animals of different families, as the thylacine.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Lupus.
the larva of any of various small insects infesting granaries.
a cruelly rapacious person.
Informal. a man who makes amorous advances to many women.
  1. the harsh discord heard in certain chords of keyboard instruments, especially the organ, when tuned on some system of unequal temperament.
  2. a chord or interval in which such a discord appears.
  3. (in bowed instruments) a discordant or false vibration in a string due to a defect in structure or adjustment of the instrument.
verb (used with object)
to devour voraciously (often followed by down):
He wolfed his food.
verb (used without object)
to hunt for wolves.
cry wolf, to give a false alarm:
Is she really sick or is she just crying wolf?
keep the wolf from the door, to avert poverty or starvation; provide sufficiently for:
Their small inheritance kept the wolf from the door.
throw to the wolves. throw (def 57).
wolf in sheep's clothing, a person who conceals his or her evil intentions or character beneath an innocent exterior.
Origin of wolf
before 900; Middle English; Old English wulf; cognate with German Wolf, Old Norse ulfr, Gothic wulfs, Polish wilk, Lithuanian vil̃kas, Sanskrit vṛka; akin to Latin lupus, Greek lýkos
Related forms
wolflike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wolflike
Historical Examples
  • But in their wolflike fury the dogs sometimes cannot be quieted even by these means.

  • The Eskimo dog seldom barks, but he has a mournful, wolflike howl.

    Alaska Ella Higginson
  • Prince yawned again, showing two perfect rows of wolflike teeth.

    Carolyn of the Corners Ruth Belmore Endicott
  • It was a rough-coated beast, showing its fangs with a wolflike ferocity.

    The Time Traders Andre Norton
  • His lips drew back over his teeth in a hideous, wolflike grin.

    May Iverson's Career Elizabeth Jordan
  • Then a new sound came down the pass, wolflike, indeed; it was repeated more clearly—the whistle of a train.

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • Thoreau's passion for this aspect of life may have been selfish, wolflike, but it is still communicative.

  • Two blocks further away the gas-light showed other parties of excited, wolflike men hastening in pursuit.

  • The dog's wolflike brush began to thump against the shaven grass.

    Lad: A Dog Albert Payson Terhune
British Dictionary definitions for wolflike


noun (pl) wolves (wʊlvz)
a predatory canine mammal, Canis lupus, which hunts in packs and was formerly widespread in North America and Eurasia but is now less common See also timber wolf related adjective lupine
any of several similar and related canines, such as the red wolf and the coyote (prairie wolf)
the fur of any such animal
Tasmanian wolf, another name for the thylacine
a voracious, grabbing, or fiercely cruel person or thing
(informal) a man who habitually tries to seduce women
(informal) the destructive larva of any of various moths and beetles
(music) Also called wolf note
  1. an unpleasant sound produced in some notes played on the violin, cello, etc, owing to resonant vibrations of the belly
  2. an out-of-tune effect produced on keyboard instruments accommodated esp to the system of mean-tone temperament See temperament (sense 4)
cry wolf, to give a false alarm
keep the wolf from the door, to ward off starvation or privation
lone wolf, a person or animal who prefers to be alone
throw to the wolves, to abandon or deliver to destruction
wolf in sheep's clothing, a malicious person in a harmless or benevolent disguise
(transitive) often foll by down. to gulp (down)
(intransitive) to hunt wolves
Derived Forms
wolfish, adjective
wolflike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English wulf; related to Old High German wolf, Old Norse ulfr, Gothic wulfs, Latin lupus and vulpēs fox


/German vɔlf/
Friedrich August (ˈfriːdrɪç ˈauɡʊst). 1759–1824, German classical scholar, who suggested that the Homeric poems, esp the Iliad, are products of an oral tradition
Hugo (ˈhuːɡo). 1860–1903, Austrian composer, esp of songs, including the Italienisches Liederbuch and the Spanisches Liederbuch
(wʊlf) Howlin'. See Howlin' Wolf
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 wolflike



Old English wulf, from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz (cf. Old Saxon wulf, Old Norse ulfr, Old Frisian, Dutch, Old High German, German wolf, Gothic wulfs), from PIE *wlqwos/*lukwos, from root *wlp-/*lup- (cf. Sanskrit vrkas, Avestan vehrka-; Albanian ulk; Old Church Slavonic vluku; Russian volcica; Lithuanian vilkas "wolf;" Old Persian Varkana- "Hyrcania," district southeast of the Caspian Sea, literally "wolf-land;" probably also Greek lykos, Latin lupus).

This manne can litle skyl ... to saue himself harmlesse from the perilous accidentes of this world, keping ye wulf from the doore (as they cal it). ["The Institution of a Gentleman," 1555]
Wolves as a symbol of lust are ancient, e.g. Roman slang lupa "whore," literally "she-wolf" (preserved in Spanish loba, Italian lupa, French louve). The equation of "wolf" and "prostitute, sexually voracious female" persisted into 12c., but by Elizabethan times wolves had become primarily symbolic of male lust. The specific use of wolf for "sexually aggressive male" first recorded 1847; wolf-whistle first attested 1952. The image of a wolf in sheep's skin is attested from c.1400. See here for a discussion of "wolf" in Indo-European history.


"eat like a wolf," 1862, from wolf (n.). Related: Wolfed; wolfing.

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



  1. A sexually aggressive man; an ardent womanizer; cocksman: Mary considered him quite a wolf (1847+)
  2. An aggressive male homosexual; a homosexual rapist: the sodomist, the degenerate, the homosexual ''wolf '' (1915+ Prison & hoboes)


: I give with the vocals and wolf around in a nite club

Related Terms


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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wolflike in the Bible

Heb. zeeb, frequently referred to in Scripture as an emblem of treachery and cruelty. Jacob's prophecy, "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf" (Gen. 49:27), represents the warlike character of that tribe (see Judg. 19-21). Isaiah represents the peace of Messiah's kingdom by the words, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb" (Isa. 11:6). The habits of the wolf are described in Jer. 5:6; Hab. 1:8; Zeph. 3:3; Ezek. 22:27; Matt. 7:15; 10:16; Acts 20:29. Wolves are still sometimes found in Palestine, and are the dread of shepherds, as of old.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with wolflike


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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