[woo lf]

noun, plural wolves [woo lvz] /wʊlvz/.

verb (used with object)

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

verb (used without object)

to hunt for wolves.

Nearby words

  1. wokingham,
  2. wokka board,
  3. wolcott,
  4. wold,
  5. wolds,
  6. wolf call,
  7. wolf cub,
  8. wolf dog,
  9. wolf fish,
  10. wolf herring


Origin of wolf

before 900; Middle English; Old English wulf; cognate with German Wolf, Old Norse ulfr, Gothic wulfs, Polish wilk, Lithuanian vil̃kas, Sanskrit vṛka; akin to Latin lupus, Greek lýkos

Related formswolf·like, adjective

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

British Dictionary definitions for wolf in sheep's clothing



Friedrich August (ˈfriːdrɪç ˈauɡʊst). 1759–1824, German classical scholar, who suggested that the Homeric poems, esp the Iliad, are products of an oral tradition
Hugo (ˈhuːɡo). 1860–1903, Austrian composer, esp of songs, including the Italienisches Liederbuch and the Spanisches Liederbuch
(wʊlf) Howlin'. See Howlin' Wolf


noun plural wolves (wʊlvz)

a predatory canine mammal, Canis lupus, which hunts in packs and was formerly widespread in North America and Eurasia but is now less commonSee also timber wolf Related adjective: lupine
any of several similar and related canines, such as the red wolf and the coyote (prairie wolf)
the fur of any such animal
Tasmanian wolf another name for the thylacine
a voracious, grabbing, or fiercely cruel person or thing
informal a man who habitually tries to seduce women
informal the destructive larva of any of various moths and beetles
Also called: wolf note music
  1. an unpleasant sound produced in some notes played on the violin, cello, etc, owing to resonant vibrations of the belly
  2. an out-of-tune effect produced on keyboard instruments accommodated esp to the system of mean-tone temperamentSee temperament (def. 4)
cry wolf to give a false alarm
keep the wolf from the door to ward off starvation or privation
lone wolf a person or animal who prefers to be alone
throw to the wolves to abandon or deliver to destruction
wolf in sheep's clothing a malicious person in a harmless or benevolent disguise


(tr often foll by down) to gulp (down)
(intr) to hunt wolves
Derived Formswolfish, adjectivewolflike, adjective

Word Origin for wolf

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

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 wolf in sheep's clothing
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Culture definitions for wolf in sheep's clothing

wolf in sheep's clothing

Figuratively, anyone who disguises a ruthless nature through an outward show of innocence. Jesus taught his followers to “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wolf in sheep's clothing

wolf in sheep's clothing

An enemy disguised as a friend, as in Dan was a wolf in sheep's clothing, pretending to help but all the while spying for our competitors. This term comes from the ancient fable about a wolf that dresses up in the skin of a sheep and sneaks up on a flock. This fable has given rise to a rich history of allusions as in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus speaks of false prophets in sheep's clothing, “but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).


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.