noun, plural wolves [woo lvz] /wʊlvz/.
- the harsh discord heard in certain chords of keyboard instruments, especially the organ, when tuned on some system of unequal temperament.
- a chord or interval in which such a discord appears.
- (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)
verb (used without object)
Origin of wolf
noun plural wolves (wʊlvz)
- an unpleasant sound produced in some notes played on the violin, cello, etc, owing to resonant vibrations of the belly
- an out-of-tune effect produced on keyboard instruments accommodated esp to the system of mean-tone temperamentSee temperament (def. 4)
Word Origin for wolf
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.
Raise a false alarm, as in Helen's always crying wolf about attempted break-ins, but the police can never find any evidence. This term comes from the tale about a young shepherd watching his flock who, lonely and fearful, called for help by shouting “Wolf!” After people came to his aid several times and saw no wolf, they ignored his cries when a wolf actually attacked his sheep. The tale appeared in a translation of Aesop's fables by Roger L'Estrange (1692), and the expression has been applied to any false alarm since the mid-1800s.
In addition to the idiom beginning with wolf
- wolf in sheep's clothing
- cry wolf
- keep the wolf from the door
- lone wolf