from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various wild felines of small to medium size, including the bobcat and the caracal.
  • noun A small wild feline (Felis silvestris) of Eurasia and Africa, generally regarded as being the ancestor of the domestic cat.
  • noun A quick-tempered person.
  • noun A person regarded as fierce.
  • noun An oil or natural-gas well drilled in an area not known to be productive.
  • noun A workers' strike unauthorized by their union.
  • adjective Risky or unsound, especially financially.
  • adjective Issued by a financially irresponsible bank.
  • adjective Operating or accomplished outside the norms of standard, ethical business procedures.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or being an oil or natural-gas well drilled speculatively in an area not known to be productive.
  • adjective Undertaken by workers without approval of the officials of their union.
  • intransitive verb To prospect for (oil, for example) in an area supposed to be unproductive.
  • intransitive verb To prospect for oil or other minerals in an area not known to be productive.
  • intransitive verb To go out on an unauthorized labor strike.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A species of cat, Felis silvestris.
  • noun Any undomesticated species of cat.
  • noun figuratively a person who acts like a wildcat, often sexually
  • noun firearms a caliber of ammunition derived by amending another type of cartridge and not made by commercial manufacturers.
  • noun In the labor movement, anything done outside of the control of bosses or trade unions.
  • noun American football an offensive formation characterized by a direct snap to a running back and an unbalanced offensive line
  • adjective relating to oil exploration in an area where no oil has been found before
  • adjective unauthorized by the proper authorities
  • adjective dated unsound; worthless; irresponsible; unsafe
  • verb to drill for oil in an area where no oil has been found before


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • He separates the two for fear of indignities, so that the mystery is cut in every cord; the design wildcats down the charter mortalis, and you get crime.

    —Djuna Barnes, Nightwood

    Most unusual use of 'wildcat' as a verb. I'm not even entirely clear what it means here. Also, the only ghits for 'charter mortalis' are this quote.

    November 21, 2008