See more synonyms for wildcat on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural wild·cats, (especially collectively) wild·cat for 1–4.
  1. any of several North American felines of the genus Lynx.Compare lynx.
  2. a yellowish-gray, black-striped feline, Felis sylvestris, of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, resembling and closely related to the domestic cat, with which it interbreeds freely.
  3. a closely related feline, Felis sylvestris libyca, of northern Africa, believed to be the ancestor of the domestic cat.
  4. any of several other of the smaller felines, as the serval or ocelot.
  5. a domestic cat that has become feral.
  6. a quick-tempered or savage person.
  7. Railroads. a single locomotive operating without a train, as one switching cars.
  8. an exploratory well drilled in an effort to discover deposits of oil or gas; a prospect well.
  9. a reckless or unsound enterprise, business, etc.
  10. Informal. wildcatter(def 2).
  11. Nautical. a shaped drum on a windlass, engaging with the links of an anchor chain.
  12. Informal. wildcat strike.
  1. characterized by or proceeding from reckless or unsafe business methods: wildcat companies; wildcat stocks.
  2. of or relating to an illicit enterprise or product.
  3. running without control or regulation, as a locomotive, or apart from the regular schedule, as a train.
verb (used without object), wild·cat·ted, wild·cat·ting.
  1. to search an area of unknown or doubtful productivity for oil, ore, or the like, especially as an independent prospector.
  2. Slang. to engage in a wildcat strike.
verb (used with object), wild·cat·ted, wild·cat·ting.
  1. to search (an area of unknown or doubtful productivity) for oil, ore, or the like.

Origin of wildcat

1375–1425; late Middle English wilde cat; compare Middle Low German wildkatte
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for wildcat

feline, lynx, bobcat, caracal

Examples from the Web for wildcat

Contemporary Examples of wildcat

Historical Examples of wildcat

  • Meddling with wildcat stocks––asinine any way you figure it!

    The Gorgeous Girl

    Nalbro Bartley

  • Soon all were standing close to the flat rock where the wildcat had been hit.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp

    Edward Stratemeyer

  • Cochise shot past, whirled, and closed in with the fury of a wildcat.

    Bloom of Cactus

    Robert Ames Bennet

  • But whether they hit the wildcat or not, they could not tell.

    The Rover Boys on a Hunt

    Arthur M. Winfield (Edward Stratemeyer)

  • I could whip a wildcat and give her the first two scratches.

    Masters of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith

British Dictionary definitions for wildcat


noun plural -cats or -cat
  1. a wild European cat, Felis silvestris, that resembles the domestic tabby but is larger and has a bushy tail
  2. any of various other felines, esp of the genus Lynx, such as the lynx and the caracal
  3. US and Canadian another name for bobcat
  4. informal a savage or aggressive person
  5. an exploratory drilling for petroleum or natural gas
  6. US and Canadian an unsound commercial enterprise
  7. US and Canadian a railway locomotive in motion without drawing any carriages or wagonsAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): light engine
  8. (modifier) US and Canadian
    1. of or relating to an unsound business enterprisewildcat stock
    2. financially or commercially unsounda wildcat project
  9. (modifier) US and Canadian (of a train) running without permission or outside the timetable
verb -cats, -catting or -catted
  1. (intr) to drill for petroleum or natural gas in an area having no known reserves
Derived Formswildcatting, noun, adjective
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 wildcat

early 15c., from wild (adj.) + cat (n.). Meaning "savage woman" is recorded from 1570s; sense of "one who forms rash projects" is attested from 1812. The adjective in the financial speculative sense is first recorded 1838, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper