• synonyms


[ wahyld-kahrd ]
/ ˈwaɪldˌkɑrd /


of, constituting, or including a wild card.
Informal. of, being, or including an unpredictable or unproven element, person, item, etc.
Sports. of, being, or including an unseeded or unproven participant or team, as a team in a championship tournament that has not placed first in its league or area.


Wild Weather Words You Need To KnowPeople talk about the weather all the time. And so, we present this list of weather words we think you need to know to join the conversation.

Nearby words

wild weasel, wild west, wild west show, wild yam, wild-and-woolly, wild-card, wild-eyed, wild-goose chase, wild-headed, wildcat, wildcat bank

Origin of wild-card

First recorded in 1955–60

Definition for wild-card (2 of 2)

wild card


Cards. a card having its value decided by the wishes of the players.
a determining or important person or thing whose qualities are unknown, indeterminate, or unpredictable: In a sailboat race the weather is the wild card.
Tennis. a player, usually without ranking, who is allowed to enter a tournament at the discretion of the tournament committee after regularly qualifying competitors have been selected.

Origin of wild card

First recorded in 1530–40 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wild-card

  • The only wild-card is the Secretary of State John Kerry, who is said to be "obsessed" with the issue.

    How Obama Gave Up On The Peace Process|Ali Gharib|March 25, 2013|DAILY BEAST

British Dictionary definitions for wild-card

wild card


sport a player or team that has not qualified for a competition but is allowed to take part, at the organizers' discretion, after all the regular places have been taken
an unpredictable element in a situation
computing a symbol that can represent any character or group of characters, as in a filename
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

Word Origin and History for wild-card

wild card


1927, in figurative sense, from literal use in poker, from wild (adj.) + card (n.). Sports team sense first recorded 1959.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wild-card

wild card

An unpredictable person or event, as in Don't count on his support—he's a wild card, or A traffic jam? That's a wild card we didn't expect. This expression comes from card games, especially poker, where it refers to a card that can stand for any rank chosen by the player who holds it. The term was adopted in sports for an additional player or team chosen to take part in a contest after the regular places have been taken. It is also used in computer terminology for a symbol that stands for one or more characters in searches for files that share a common specification. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1900s.

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