Definition of feral in English:



  • 1(especially of an animal) in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication.

    ‘a feral cat’
    • ‘The citizens of southern California are debating the balance between feral cats versus dirty rats.’
    • ‘She said previously the feral cats kept down the numbers of rats and mice on farms.’
    • ‘While thousands of acres have been fenced in, much of the land is idle and feral cats and foxes have breached fence lines.’
    • ‘Animal rights activists object to euthanizing stray and feral cats at either place.’
    • ‘Thankfully, a new campaign has been launched to help secure protection for feral goats around Ireland.’
    • ‘Apparently rural hunters use dogs to hunt down and kill feral pigs.’
    • ‘The deer, sheep and feral goats obviously appreciated the route through the forest too.’
    • ‘This is a high, wild and remote spot, home to feral goats, red deer and golden eagle.’
    • ‘His hunting skills have also been used for the control of feral pigs in Hawaii, where he has advised on the use and training of dogs.’
    • ‘Now the sheer cliffs are inhabited by choughs, golden eagles, feral goats and basking seals.’
    • ‘The activists were protesting plans by the hospital to trap up to 75 feral cats and turn them over to a local animal pound.’
    • ‘Suddenly a pack of skinny Malaysian dogs shot onto the lawns below, chasing a feral cat.’
    • ‘The impact of both domestic and feral cats on small native animal wildlife and birds is a controversial issue in Australia.’
    • ‘How long before the novelty wears off, and that kitten ends up another feral cat?’
    • ‘The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs.’
    • ‘A labour-intensive programme of trapping will reduce the numbers of stoats and feral cats.’
    • ‘A pack of feral dogs lived among the heaps of dirt for a time, scavenging among empty beer cans and shopping trolleys.’
    • ‘Somehow they know to elude predators - birds, crabs and feral cats - to reach the sea.’
    • ‘If, however, the cat and kitten are feral, you might consider keeping the kitten.’
    • ‘He rates predation by feral cats and foxes as the single biggest threat to native animals in the Territory.’
    wild, untamed, undomesticated, untrained, unused to humans
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Resembling or characteristic of a wild animal.
      ‘his teeth were bared in a feral snarl’
      • ‘Catullus brings forth the frenzied, almost feral, aspects of Bacchus's followers driven mad with drunkenness and hedonism, whereas Ovid concentrates on the romantic or emotional experience of Bacchus and Ariadne's encounter.’
      • ‘Max, with his feral sensitivity, was the first to hear someone approaching from the street.’
      • ‘Sturges was also quick to spot the feral intensity of Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine's brutal boorishness, using them to give Bad Day At Black Rock its seething core of twisted hatred.’
      • ‘He struck a match and the stranger came closer for a moment, bringing with him a feral smell.’
      • ‘Jean conveyed the lives of four nihilistic young people in a New Brunswick logging town with a feral intensity that is exceedingly rare in Canadian independent cinema.’
      • ‘The fact that he is missing front teeth adds a dangerous, feral quality to this man.’
      • ‘There is a feral quality about him: he has the pallor of someone who is never long separated from a drink or a Marlboro Light, which it turns out he isn't.’
      • ‘A Neapolitan of modest origins, he tempers feral energy and vicious tantrums with a magnetic warmth that he switches on and off at will.’
      • ‘The plot charts a downward spiral that takes the characters into a nearly feral state.’
      • ‘Jackson Starfield is possessed of the most rock'n'roll name in town and a nice feral howl to match.’
      • ‘Somewhere in the whirl of images is a close-up of the eye of a horse, a visual metaphor more terrifying and indicative of the feral madness of war than any in recent memory.’
      • ‘There are some wonderful scenes in the movie: especially those showing the little boys' feral existence on the island, roaming around in gangs attacking each other.’
      • ‘Although there's an element of feral sensuality in Davalos' portrayal, the film wisely keeps any potential sexual energy between her and Diesel at arm's length.’
      • ‘But it's Lewis who embodied so much of what was feral and profound about the new music.’
      • ‘Her eyes are partially closed as she lies there panting, the remains of a feral snarl becoming a sated smile.’
      • ‘Anthony Newley gives the Artful Dodger a feral quality that seems quite convincing for a boy raised on the dirty and dangerous streets of London.’
      • ‘That said, the most impressive physical aspect of her performance comes in her feral facial expressions and stiff movements, both of which communicate a pervasive sense of unease.’
      fierce, ferocious, vicious, savage, aggressive, tigerish, wolfish, predatory, menacing, threatening, bloodthirsty
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a young person) behaving in a wildly undisciplined and antisocial way.
      ‘gangs of feral youths’
      • ‘In an interview last week to mark the end of his time as Metropolitan Police Commissioner, he said that each London borough has between 20 and 60 feral children causing vast levels of crime.’
      • ‘Feral children are blamed for a quarter of all street assaults and robberies.’
      • ‘The main concern among those working with feral children is that the government's anti-social behaviour agenda will further marginalise them.’
      • ‘in pockets of society, there are so-called feral youngsters who have no respect for the elderly and the law.’
      • ‘The play follows a group of feral youths who spend their days drifting from crime to crime, smoking dope and stealing petrol, seemingly unsupervised by adults.’
      • ‘The adult members of society are under curfew and the elderly under house arrest: feral youth has taken over.’
      • ‘Feral children roaming neighbourhoods do cause great distress.’
      • ‘Opening with a shocking assault committed by a group of feral teenagers, this film then rolls back time and examines the events leading up to the attack and the reasons behind it.’
      • ‘Anti-social behaviour, feral youth and weakening of communities form a triad of concerns that cuts across politics.’
      • ‘Aren't the feral, criminal children likely to find themselves expelled or excluded shortly after getting back into school?’
      • ‘Michael's family called for his killers to be given long jail sentences as a deterrent to 'the feral youths who terrorise our society'.’
      • ‘If our welfare and education systems had not created an underclass of feral youths, he and his friends would not have been the victims of mob violence.’
      • ‘These boys were painted by the authorities as monsters, symbolic of everything from the collapse of family values to the rise of a feral underclass.’
      • ‘It was inevitable that a feral teenager in a stolen car was going to run over someone.’
      • ‘We were feral kids who were fed and got to watch TV but then were left completely to our own devices.’
      • ‘The press was full of stuff about mindless violence by feral kids.’


  • A person with an unconventional appearance and lifestyle, and anti-establishment views.

    ‘we expected bearded ferals chaining themselves to trees in protest’
    • ‘Ahhhh … the old "all lefties are smelly ferals" line again.’
    • ‘He ran a loud campaign about containing ferals at AGMs.’
    • ‘Many are attracted by the prospect of observing a menagerie of erotic freaks and abject ferals.’
    • ‘Tasmanians know how important tourism is to their economy and don't like seeing the island image sullied by a bunch of ferals.’
    • ‘The police had blocked off the road out of Hyde Park to prevent the ferals from marching down to the restricted area.’
    • ‘Lyn and Joe go out for tea and then get home to a house full of ferals.’
    • ‘The name comes from Australia's green extremists, which the Aussies call "ferals."’
    • ‘The ferals are not even representative of lefties at those marches.’
    • ‘They were dismissed as ferals or middle class uni students.’
    • ‘The green extremists are known as 'ferals' in Australia.’


Early 17th century: from Latin fera ‘wild animal’ (from ferus ‘wild’) + -al.