Definition of feral in English:



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

    ‘a feral cat’
    • ‘Somehow they know to elude predators - birds, crabs and feral cats - to reach the sea.’
    • ‘The deer, sheep and feral goats obviously appreciated the route through the forest too.’
    • ‘A labour-intensive programme of trapping will reduce the numbers of stoats and feral cats.’
    • ‘The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs.’
    • ‘Suddenly a pack of skinny Malaysian dogs shot onto the lawns below, chasing a feral cat.’
    • ‘A pack of feral dogs lived among the heaps of dirt for a time, scavenging among empty beer cans and shopping trolleys.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He rates predation by feral cats and foxes as the single biggest threat to native animals in the Territory.’
    • ‘This is a high, wild and remote spot, home to feral goats, red deer and golden eagle.’
    • ‘The impact of both domestic and feral cats on small native animal wildlife and birds is a controversial issue in Australia.’
    • ‘The activists were protesting plans by the hospital to trap up to 75 feral cats and turn them over to a local animal pound.’
    • ‘Thankfully, a new campaign has been launched to help secure protection for feral goats around Ireland.’
    • ‘If, however, the cat and kitten are feral, you might consider keeping the kitten.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Animal rights activists object to euthanizing stray and feral cats at either place.’
    • ‘Now the sheer cliffs are inhabited by choughs, golden eagles, feral goats and basking seals.’
    • ‘How long before the novelty wears off, and that kitten ends up another feral cat?’
    • ‘Apparently rural hunters use dogs to hunt down and kill feral pigs.’
    • ‘The citizens of southern California are debating the balance between feral cats versus dirty rats.’
    wild, untamed, undomesticated, untrained, unused to humans
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    1. 1.1 Resembling or characteristic of a wild animal:
      ‘his teeth were bared in a feral snarl’
      • ‘He struck a match and the stranger came closer for a moment, bringing with him a feral smell.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Max, with his feral sensitivity, was the first to hear someone approaching from the street.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jackson Starfield is possessed of the most rock'n'roll name in town and a nice feral howl to match.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A Neapolitan of modest origins, he tempers feral energy and vicious tantrums with a magnetic warmth that he switches on and off at will.’
      • ‘Her eyes are partially closed as she lies there panting, the remains of a feral snarl becoming a sated smile.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The fact that he is missing front teeth adds a dangerous, feral quality to this man.’
      • ‘But it's Lewis who embodied so much of what was feral and profound about the new music.’
      • ‘The plot charts a downward spiral that takes the characters into a nearly feral state.’
      fierce, ferocious, vicious, savage, aggressive, tigerish, wolfish, predatory, menacing, threatening, bloodthirsty
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    2. 1.2 (of a young person) behaving in a wildly undisciplined and antisocial way:
      ‘gangs of feral youths’
      • ‘The adult members of society are under curfew and the elderly under house arrest: feral youth has taken over.’
      • ‘We were feral kids who were fed and got to watch TV but then were left completely to our own devices.’
      • ‘Aren't the feral, criminal children likely to find themselves expelled or excluded shortly after getting back into school?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Michael's family called for his killers to be given long jail sentences as a deterrent to 'the feral youths who terrorise our society'.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was inevitable that a feral teenager in a stolen car was going to run over someone.’
      • ‘The press was full of stuff about mindless violence by feral kids.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘in pockets of society, there are so-called feral youngsters who have no respect for the elderly and the law.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The main concern among those working with feral children is that the government's anti-social behaviour agenda will further marginalise them.’
      • ‘Feral children roaming neighbourhoods do cause great distress.’
      • ‘Feral children are blamed for a quarter of all street assaults and robberies.’


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

    ‘we expected bearded ferals chaining themselves to trees in protest’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Ahhhh … the old "all lefties are smelly ferals" line again.’
    • ‘Many are attracted by the prospect of observing a menagerie of erotic freaks and abject ferals.’
    • ‘The ferals are not even representative of lefties at those marches.’
    • ‘The green extremists are known as 'ferals' in Australia.’
    • ‘Lyn and Joe go out for tea and then get home to a house full of ferals.’
    • ‘He ran a loud campaign about containing ferals at AGMs.’
    • ‘They were dismissed as ferals or middle class uni students.’
    • ‘The name comes from Australia's green extremists, which the Aussies call "ferals."’


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