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wild·cat (wīldkăt)
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n.
1. Any of various wild felines of small to medium size, including the bobcat and the caracal.
2. A small wild feline (Felis silvestris) of Eurasia and Africa, generally regarded as being the ancestor of the domestic cat.
3.
a. A quick-tempered person.
b. A person regarded as fierce.
4. An oil or natural-gas well drilled in an area not known to be productive.
5. A workers' strike unauthorized by their union.
adj.
1.
a. Risky or unsound, especially financially.
b. Issued by a financially irresponsible bank: wildcat currency.
c. Operating or accomplished outside the norms of standard, ethical business procedures: wildcat life insurance schemes.
2. Of, relating to, or being an oil or natural-gas well drilled speculatively in an area not known to be productive.
3. Undertaken by workers without approval of the officials of their union: a wildcat strike.
v. wild·cat·ted, wild·cat·ting, wild·cats
v.tr.
To prospect for (oil, for example) in an area supposed to be unproductive.
v.intr.
1. To prospect for oil or other minerals in an area not known to be productive.
2. To go out on an unauthorized labor strike.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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