Definition of wildcat in English:



  • 1A small native Eurasian and African cat that is typically grey with black markings and a bushy tail, noted for its ferocity.

    Felis silvestris, family Felidae, the African race of which is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic cat

    • ‘A big wildcat can kill roe deer fawns, and sometimes even does.’
    • ‘Dresser's team is fine-tuning the cloning of small cats like the African wildcat, as well as the largest: tigers.’
    • ‘Domestic cats are thought to have descended from the African subspecies of the wildcat.’
    • ‘Over the years, Owen Newman and I had filmed cheetahs, lions, leopards, African wildcats and servals (for the first ever film of them) but never caracals.’
    • ‘Since Dolly's creation in 1996 a variety of other animals have been duplicated, including a caracal cat and an African wildcat.’
    1. 1.1 Any of the smaller members of the cat family, especially (in North America) the bobcat.
      • ‘A highly adaptable wildcat of North America, the Bobcat has managed to survive in healthy numbers in a variety of habitats, consuming a diverse spectrum of prey, in both wild and inhabited regions.’
      • ‘Though more tolerant of people than many other wildcats, bobcats tend to avoid large cultivated areas.’
    2. 1.2 A hot-tempered or ferocious person (typically used of a woman).
      • ‘I soon found out she was not a kid. She was a regular little wildcat.’
      • ‘I think she played the boss' daughter and Kevin liked her but she was a real wildcat.’
  • 2An exploratory oil well.

    • ‘Peak exploration was in 1985 when 184 wildcats were drilled.’


  • 1attributive (of a strike) sudden and unofficial.

    ‘legislation to curb wildcat strikes’
    • ‘And when shop floor workers became dissatisfied, they staged increasing numbers of ‘unofficial’ or wildcat strikes.’
    • ‘And at the time of writing we are seeing the first unofficial wildcat strikes in the civil service for 16 years!’
    • ‘The 12-month dispute saw extensive industrial action, including wildcat strikes by teachers and walkouts by students.’
    • ‘The effect of the industrial action was compounded by a wildcat strike held by railway train guards the same morning.’
    • ‘This has seen members strike for two days in both February and April, and take part in a number of unofficial wildcat strikes.’
    unofficial, unsanctioned, uncertified, unaccredited, unlicensed, unwarranted, unapproved
    View synonyms
  • 2attributive Commercially unsound or risky.

    • ‘Those of you who might consider investing in a wildcat venture should also remember that the quality of geologic professional advice varies.’
    • ‘Naturally no banker likes to see money drawn out of his institution and put into a wildcat investment where neither he nor anybody else thereabout will ever see it again.’


[no object]US
  • Prospect for oil.

    • ‘He had invested in a wildcatting deal and lost money, but it was ‘no fault of George,’ he said, adding that ‘the good Lord just didn't put any oil there.’’
    • ‘He was responsible for passage of the Wilderness Act, which is all that stands between deforestation and wildcatting across millions of acres of pristine federal land.’
    • ‘Although Krajick's book about a pair of wildcatting prospectors is set mostly in Canada's Northwest Territories during the 1990s, the hostility and paranoia on display are the same as at the Namibian mine.’