[ mav-er-ik, mav-rik ]
/ ˈmæv ər ɪk, ˈmæv rɪk /
Save This Word!

Southwestern U.S. an unbranded calf, cow, or steer, especially an unbranded calf that is separated from its mother.
  1. a lone dissenter, such as an intellectual, an artist, or a politician, who takes an independent stand apart from their peers: His unusual techniques made him a maverick of modern dance.
  2. a person pursuing rebellious, even potentially disruptive, policies or ideas: You can't muzzle a maverick.
Maverick, an electro-optically guided U.S. air-to-ground tactical missile for destroying tanks and other hardened targets at ranges up to 15 miles (24 km).
unorthodox, unconventional, or nonconformist: She had a reputation as a maverick fiscal conservative willing to raise taxes.
There's an ocean of difference between the way people speak English in the US vs. the UK. Are your language skills up to the task of telling the difference? Let's find out!
Question 1 of 7
True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.

Origin of maverick

An Americanism dating back to 1865–70; named after Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70), Texas pioneer who left his calves unbranded

historical usage of maverick

The term maverick surged in popularity, propelled by the presidential bid in the late 2000s of U.S. Senator John McCain, then considered a “political maverick” of the Republican Party. Given the word's Wild West roots, maverick has always had an edgy, rebellious connotation: it originally referred to unbranded cattle that strayed from the herd, putting their ownership in doubt. It was then a short step in going from this original meaning to applying the word to a person who strayed from and did not follow the thinking of a group they belonged to, or who rebelled against accepted ideas or a herd mentality. Maverick thus came to generally mean an individualistic and independent thinker. In popular culture, as exemplified in the movies Maverick (1994) and Top Gun (1986), the term often describes colorful gamblers and risk takers. Depending on context, then, maverick can be applied to a pioneer who bucks current trends, or to a wild and potentially reckless loose cannon.

popular references for maverick

—Dallas Mavericks: American professional basketball team based in Dallas, Texas, a member of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Maverick : popular American TV series (1957–62) set in the Wild West that inspired a film of the same name (1994).
—Maverick: Nickname and call sign of ace fighter pilot, played by Tom Cruise, in the film Top Gun (1986).
—Ford Maverick: Stylish, youthfully designed mid-size car made in the late 1960s and ‘70s in North America and Brazil.

Quotations related to maverick

  • "The rugged individualist is too often mistaken for the misfit, the maverick, the spoilsport, the sore thumb. "
    -Lewis H. Lapham Money and Class in America: Notes and Observations on Our Civil Religion (1988)
  • "Maverick is a word which appeals to me more than misfit. Maverick is active, misfit is passive. "
    -Alan Rickman (actor) Alan Rickman's Quotes Facebook (2008)
  • "Listen closely to maverick entrepreneurs…, and you quickly realize that they don't sound like traditional executives. "
    -William C. Taylor and Polly G. Labarr Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win (2006)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use maverick in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for maverick

/ (ˈmævərɪk) /

(in US and Canadian cattle-raising regions) an unbranded animal, esp a stray calf
  1. a person of independent or unorthodox views
  2. (as modifier)a maverick politician

Word Origin for maverick

C19: after Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70), Texas rancher, who did not brand his cattle
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