[ woolf ]
See synonyms for wolf on Thesaurus.com
noun,plural wolves [woolvz]. /wʊlvz/.
  1. any of several large carnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, of the dog family Canidae, especially C. lupus, usually hunting in packs, formerly common throughout the Northern Hemisphere but now chiefly restricted to the more unpopulated parts of its range.

  2. the fur of any of several large carnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, especially C. lupus.

  1. any of various animals of different families that are similar to C. lupus, such as the thylacine.

  2. Wolf, Astronomy. the constellation Lupus.

  3. the larva of any of various small insects infesting granaries.

  4. a cruelly rapacious person.

  5. Informal. a man who makes amorous advances to many women.

  6. Music.

    • 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 harsh discord appears when tuned on some system of unequal temperament.

    • (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)
  1. to devour voraciously (often followed by down): He wolfed his food.

verb (used without object)
  1. to hunt for wolves.

Idioms about wolf

  1. cry wolf, to give a false alarm: Is she really sick or is she just crying wolf?

  2. keep the wolf from the door, to avert poverty or starvation; provide sufficiently for: Their small inheritance kept the wolf from the door.

  1. throw (someone or something) to the wolves / dogs, Informal. to place or leave in a bad situation with no assistance, especially in order to protect oneself: The coach threw his rookie players to the wolves following their embarrassing loss.

  2. wolf in sheep's clothing, a person who conceals evil intentions or character beneath an innocent exterior.

Origin of wolf

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English wulf; cognate with German Wolf, Old Norse ulfr, Gothic wulfs, all from Germanic wulfaz; akin to Polish wilk, Czech vlk, Lithuanian vil̃kas, Sanskrit vṛka-, and Latin lupus, Greek lýkos

Other words from wolf

  • wolflike, adjective

Words Nearby wolf

Other definitions for Wolf (2 of 2)

[ vawlf ]

  1. Baron Christian von. Christian von Wolff.

  2. Frie·drich Au·gust [free-drikh-ou-goost], /ˈfri drɪx ˈaʊ gʊst/, 1759–1824, German classical scholar.

  1. Hu·go [hoo-goh], /ˈhu goʊ/, 1860–1903, Austrian composer.

  2. a male given name.

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use wolf in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wolf (1 of 2)


/ (wʊlf) /

nounplural wolves (wʊlvz)
  1. a predatory canine mammal, Canis lupus, which hunts in packs and was formerly widespread in North America and Eurasia but is now less common: See also timber wolf Related adjective: lupine

  2. any of several similar and related canines, such as the red wolf and the coyote (prairie wolf)

  1. the fur of any such animal

  2. Tasmanian wolf another name for the thylacine

  3. a voracious, grabbing, or fiercely cruel person or thing

  4. informal a man who habitually tries to seduce women

  5. informal the destructive larva of any of various moths and beetles

  6. Also called: wolf note music

    • 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 temperament: See temperament (def. 4)

  7. cry wolf to give a false alarm

  8. keep the wolf from the door to ward off starvation or privation

  9. lone wolf a person or animal who prefers to be alone

  10. throw to the wolves to abandon or deliver to destruction

  11. wolf in sheep's clothing a malicious person in a harmless or benevolent disguise

  1. (tr often foll by down) to gulp (down)

  2. (intr) to hunt wolves

Origin of wolf

Old English wulf; related to Old High German wolf, Old Norse ulfr, Gothic wulfs, Latin lupus and vulpēs fox

Derived forms of wolf

  • wolfish, adjective
  • wolflike, adjective

British Dictionary definitions for Wolf (2 of 2)


/ (German vɔlf) /

  1. Friedrich August (ˈfriːdrɪç ˈauɡʊst). 1759–1824, German classical scholar, who suggested that the Homeric poems, esp the Iliad, are products of an oral tradition

  2. Hugo (ˈhuːɡo). 1860–1903, Austrian composer, esp of songs, including the Italienisches Liederbuch and the Spanisches Liederbuch

  1. (wʊlf) Howlin'. See Howlin' Wolf

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with wolf


In addition to the idiom beginning with wolf

  • wolf in sheep's clothing

also see:

  • cry wolf
  • keep the wolf from the door
  • lone wolf

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