Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Existing in a wild or untamed state.
  • adj. Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.
  • adj. Of or suggestive of a wild animal; savage: a feral grin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Wild, untamed, especially of domesticated animals having returned to the wild.
  • adj. Contemptible, unruly, misbehaved.
  • n. A domesticated animal that has returned to the wild; an animal, particularly a domesticated animal, living independently of humans.
  • n. A contemptible young person, a lout, a person who behaves wildly.
  • n. A person who has isolated themselves from the outside world; one living an alternative lifestyle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Wild; untamed; ferine; not domesticated; -- said of beasts, birds, and plants.
  • adj. Funereal; deadly; fatal; dangerous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to wild beasts; wild; ferine; ferous; existing in a state of nature; not domesticated or artificially bred: as, the mallard is the feral stock of the domestic duck.
  • Run wild; having escaped from domestication and reverted to a state of nature.
  • Like a wild beast; characteristic of wild beasts; brutal; savage.
  • In astrology, said of a planet which has no significant relation to any other.
  • Funereal; pertaining to funerals; mournful; fatal; cruel.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. wild and menacing

Etymologies

From Latin fera, wild animal, from ferus, wild; see ghwer- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin ferus ("wild"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As Hélène Mulholland reports, Godwin told the London assembly that "the fact that the term feral is still being used in terms of young people in our inner city … is a great challenge to us as a city."

    The Guardian World News

  • The use of the term "feral" was first used in about 2000 following the death of Damilola Taylor.

    The Guardian World News

  • Colonel Hamilton Smith, the able writer on dogs, does not acknowledge some of these wild races, but thinks they are what he calls feral, or domestic dogs which have regained their liberty, and have subsisted for many generations on their own intelligence.

    Anecdotes of the Habits and Instinct of Animals

  • Normally the word feral refers to a domestic animal that has gone wild, but it’s also used to describe people the general populace believes have done the same.

    Surviving Australia

  • He is and has for many years been engaged in feral cat rescue; I have seen him stop on the street to give a homeless man money -- and an argument, because with Peter, everything comes with an argument.

    we get letters

  • There was a little fly in our bungalow that I adopted and named Wings, and I called the feral cat that howled for food Legs.

    HIGH ON ARRIVAL

  • Let the kids wander the streets in feral fashion for a few years and then when they are fully human they can go back to the classroom.

    Matthew Yglesias » The Trouble With Marriage

  • But now they're moaning in feral ecstasy, overcoming the powerful negativity of the place -- the broken branches and dried-out logs -- with the juices of the life force itself.

    Science, Technology, Politics

  • Researchers have utilized a novel technique to reveal that in feral chickens, the simple stimulus generated by male mounting -- in the absence of actual insemination -- reduces the sexual promiscuity of a hen.

    Science News

  • The rioters are called feral youth, sometimes feral scum, vermin, wild beasts or street jackals.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

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