Definition of wildcat in English:


Pronunciation /ˈwīl(d)kat/ /ˈwaɪl(d)kæt/

Translate wildcat into Spanish


  • 1A small native Eurasian and African cat that is typically gray 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

    ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A big wildcat can kill roe deer fawns, and sometimes even does.’
    1. 1.1Any of the smaller members of the cat family, especially 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. 1.2A hot-tempered or ferocious person (typically used of a woman).
      ‘I think she played the boss' daughter and Kevin liked her but she was a real wildcat.’
      • ‘I soon found out she was not a kid. She was a regular little wildcat.’
  • 2An exploratory oil well.

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


  • 1(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!’
    • ‘This has seen members strike for two days in both February and April, and take part in a number of unofficial wildcat strikes.’
    • ‘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.’
    unofficial, unsanctioned, uncertified, unaccredited, unlicensed, unwarranted, unapproved
    1. 1.1Commercially 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.’

intransitive verb

[no object]US
  • Prospect for oil.

    ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’