wild oat



any uncultivated species of Avena, especially a common weedy grass, A. fatua, resembling the cultivated oat.
a hardy plant, Uvularia sessilifolia, of the lily family, of eastern North America, having deep green, hairy leaves and greenish-yellow, tubular flowers.

Nearby words

  1. wild madder,
  2. wild man,
  3. wild mandrake,
  4. wild monkshood,
  5. wild mustard,
  6. wild oats,
  7. wild olive,
  8. wild orange,
  9. wild pansy,
  10. wild parsley


    sow one's wild oats, to have a youthful fling at reckless and indiscreet behavior, especially to be promiscuous before marriage.

Origin of wild oat

First recorded in 1490–1500

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for wild oats

wild oats

pl n

slang the indiscretions of youth, esp dissoluteness before settling down (esp in the phrase sow one's wild oats)

wild oat


any of several temperate annual grasses of the genus Avena, esp A. fatua, that grow as weeds and have long bristles on their flower spikes
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

Idioms and Phrases with wild oats

wild oats

see sow one's wild oats.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.