Definition of wild in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /wʌɪld/


1(Of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated: a herd of wild goats wild strawberries
More example sentences
  • All the sunflowers that were planted last summer were brown, wild shrubs grew abundantly, and weeds consumed the few lilies that were trying desperately to live.
  • Trees are cut down to grow cash crops and wild creatures are shot.
  • Dragons eat any animals they can catch, up to the size of wild pigs, goats, deer, and water buffaloes and occasionally including human beings.
untamed, undomesticated, feral;
fierce, ferocious, savage
uncultivated, natural;
native, indigenous
technical agrestal
1.1Produced from wild animals or plants without cultivation: wild honey
More example sentences
  • The smell is of locusts and wild honey, like John the Baptist's menu.
  • For £150 a year, anyone can adopt a sheep and in return be sent four kilos of pecorino, wild honey, jams and some woollen jumpers.
  • There are some women's units making excellent bath soaps by adding exotic ingredients like honey, saffron, wild turmeric or sandal.
2(Of a place or region) uninhabited, uncultivated, or inhospitable: an expanse of wild moorland the wild coastline of Cape Wrath
More example sentences
  • I think that instilled a love for landscape, for wild places and open spaces.
  • Clearly his is a cack-handed attempt to cash in on the growing public desire to take wild places into the ownership and control of the communities that live around them.
  • I reckon my love of nature and of wild places started out with Romany.
uninhabited, unpopulated, uncultivated, unfarmed, unmanaged, virgin;
rugged, rough, inhospitable, desolate, empty, deserted, trackless, waste, barren
2.1(Of sea or the weather) rough and stormy: a wild, bitterly cold night
More example sentences
  • For me the wild seas and the cold were really tough.
  • A few days back I thrilled to a display of wild weather, noting a ‘water spout’ descending from the clouds over Boston during a rain storm.
  • There's something primal and deeply satisfying about sitting indoors, all warm and snug and listening to wild weather beating at the eaves.
stormy, squally, tempestuous, turbulent, blustery, windy, howling, raging, roaring, furious, violent;
angry, dirty, foul, nasty, inclement;
rough, storm-tossed, choppy, boiling
rare boisterous
2.2(Of people) not civilized; primitive: the wild tribes from the north
More example sentences
  • Egypt, Donnelly wrote, was their colony, where they tried to civilize wild tribes.
  • But while the colonial powers cast the rebels in the light of wild savages destroying the civilising force of the settlers, it was Africans who suffered the brunt of attacks.
  • Some wild tribes of the distant past no doubt did follow the practice of killing innocent people in revenge for the death of one of their men.
primitive, uncivilized, uncultured, uncultivated, uneducated, ignorant;
savage, barbarous, barbaric, brutish, ferocious, fierce;
Indian  jungli
archaic rude
2.3(Of a look, appearance, etc.) indicating distraction or strong emotion: her wild eyes were darting back and forth
More example sentences
  • His struggles were becoming more and more frenzied, a wild look creeping into his blue eyes.
  • Geniuses must have a wild look, their hair must be in disarray, their mind must be in torment on account of their receptivity to divine afflatus, which comes in via the hair.
  • You could see the home fans get a wild look in their eye as naked drummers ran up and down the sidelines riding stick-horses and chanting in the rain.
3Lacking discipline or restraint: wild parties were never her scene
More example sentences
  • ‘They have a wild party but something goes wrong,’ says Welsh, refusing to divulge the secret at the heart of the plot.
  • I still go to wild parties - only they're at Wacky Warehouse and the guest list is made up of screaming five-year-olds.
  • Upon moving in, the duchess became famous for her wild parties.
uncontrolled, unrestrained, out of control, undisciplined, unconstrained, uncurbed, unbridled, unchecked, chaotic;
uninhibited, extrovert, attention-seeking, unconventional;
wayward, self-willed, ungovernable, unmanageable, unruly, rowdy, disorderly, riotous, lawless
rare corybantic
3.1 informal Very enthusiastic or excited: I’m not wild about the music
More example sentences
  • He's arrived in Boston to address the wild, enthusiastic, over-the-top Democratic Convention.
  • Liz, on the other hand, has strong cultural and familial restrictions on staring, and tends to look very mildly upon people, when she looks at all, even when she's standing in front of a man she's wild about.
  • Henry wants me to try this Vietnamese place he's wild about. Want to come?
very excited, jumping up and down, on fire, delirious, in a frenzy, frantic;
uproarious, tumultuous, passionate, vehement, eager, unrestrained, untrammelled
very keen on, very enthusiastic about, passionate about, enamoured of, infatuated with, smitten with
informal crazy about, mad about, nutty/nuts about, potty about, gone on
3.2 informal Very angry.
Example sentences
  • She was wild. She just flipped. It was as if she had voices in her head.
furious, very angry, infuriated, incensed, enraged, beside oneself, irate, fuming, in a rage, raging, seething, maddened, exasperated
informal livid, mad, hopping mad, seeing red, hot under the collar, up in arms, foaming at the mouth, on the warpath, steamed up, fit to be tied
British informal spare
Scottish informal radge
4Not based on sound reasoning or probability: a wild guess wild rumours were circulating performing in Hollywood was beyond my wildest dreams
More example sentences
  • These figures are no more than wild guesses and not derived from research or sound information.
  • But times are fresh and proof is mostly based on wild innuendo and moral snobbery in these dawn days of post-America.
  • At least with Santa Claus, we know there really was a Saint Nicholas on whom all the later wild stories are based.
madcap, ridiculous, ludicrous, foolish, stupid, lunatic, foolhardy, idiotic, absurd, silly, asinine, unwise, ill-advised, ill-considered, ill-conceived, illogical, senseless, nonsensical;
impractical, impracticable, unpractical, unworkable, imprudent, reckless, preposterous, outrageous;
extravagant, fantastical, fantastic, fanciful
informal crazy, crackpot, crackbrained, cock-eyed
British informal daft
random, arbitrary, hit-or-miss, haphazard, uninformed
informal shot-in-the-dark
5(Of a playing card) deemed to have any value, suit, colour, or other property in a game at the discretion of the player holding it. See also wild card.
Example sentences
  • In some games certain cards are wild - either the deuces or a joker added to the deck - and in some games there is a cumulative jackpot which is won by a high hand such as a royal flush.
  • In this case each hand the wild tiles move around the board from player to player so each player gets 2 wild tiles every 3rd hand.
  • A player uses the wild double in his turn to end the gameround.


(the wild)
1A natural state or uncultivated or uninhabited region: kiwis are virtually extinct in the wild
More example sentences
  • Zoos often keep their animals in cramped, often barren conditions: a far cry from the animal's natural habitat in the wild.
  • Our data suggest that the performance paradigm can be expanded to reveal more of the physiological underpinning of natural selection in the wild.
  • If so, does a fish have a worse time of it in a net than it will have when it is killed by a predator or dies of other natural causes in the wild?
1.1 (the wilds) A remote uninhabited or sparsely inhabited area: he spent a year in the wilds of Canada
More example sentences
  • It must have been a tough decision to be tucked away in the wilds of the remote village after a degree from Oxford but he obviously has a lot of the hardy Scot in him, as his occasional hints keep reminding us.
  • It's well written with lots of excellent photographs and is packed full of knowledge gained from her many years working as a trout-fishing guide in the wilds of the Caithness area of Scotland.
  • Francis came all the way back into the big bad city from the wilds of New Haven, so we were glad to see him.
remote areas, wilderness;
backwoods, hinterlands;
North American  backcountry, backland;
Australian/New Zealand  outback, bush, backblocks, booay;
South African  backveld, platteland
North American informal boondocks, boonies, tall timbers
Australian/New Zealand informal Woop Woop, beyond the black stump


[with object] West Indian
Treat (a person or animal) harshly, so that they become untrusting or nervous: let your pigeon fly for a while: we don’t want to wild him



run wild

Grow or develop without restraint or discipline: these horses have been running wild since they were born figurative her imagination had run wild
More example sentences
  • Presumably he's hoping to let the island monkeys run wild, grow a fanbase around him and then start charging them for his signature too.
  • It's a question of striking the right balance: too little discipline and teenagers might run wild; too much and they might rebel.
  • I mean, that's just someone's imagination running wild.
grow unchecked, grow profusely, run riot, spread like wildfire, ramble, straggle
run free, run amok, run riot, get out of control, cut loose, be undisciplined, go on the rampage;
Australian  go bush
informal raise hell
North American informal go postal

wild horses wouldn't ——

Used to convey that nothing could persuade or force one to do something: wild horses wouldn’t have kept me away
More example sentences
  • Even though I'll be in Birmingham on Saturday (Aston Villa v Charlton), wild horses wouldn't drag me away from some of these places on Sunday.
  • I don't know where he gets it from because wild horses wouldn't drag me onto a stage.
  • He assured friends that wild horses wouldn't drag him back to the Lords when he stepped down as Archbishop of York last weekend.

wild and woolly

Uncouth in appearance or behaviour: the Australian outlaw’s wild and woolly look he might have been a gunman in his wild and woolly youth
More example sentences
  • And yet they both deal with the wild and woolly world of human behaviour.
  • Prayer to saints specifically unites us with the Church Triumphant in heaven, and thus is a much-needed reminder that the Church has endured for almost 2,000 wild and woolly and often hideous years.
  • Things will be much less wild and woolly here tomorrow, so I will be back then with a statement of principle.





Old English wilde, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German wild.

  • Both wild and wilderness are Old English words. The first sense of wild was ‘not tame or domesticated’, and wilderness means literally ‘land inhabited only by wild animals’—it comes from Old English wild dēor ‘wild deer’. This is the sense in The Call of the Wild (1903), a novella by the American writer Jack London about a pet sold as a sled dog that returns to the wild to lead a pack of wolves. To the Anglo-Saxons wildfire was originally a raging, destructive fire caused by a lightning strike. It was also a mixture of highly flammable substances used in warfare, and a term for various skin diseases that spread quickly over the body. Use of spread like wildfire was suggested by Shakespeare's line in his poem The Rape of Lucrece: ‘Whose words like wild fire burnt the shining glorie / Of rich-built Illion [Troy]’. A wild goose chase does not come from hunting. Early examples, dating from the late 16th century, refer to a popular sport of the time in which each of a line of riders had to follow accurately the course of the leader, like a flight of wild geese. The wooded uplands know as wolds (Old English), as in Cotswolds, or wealds are probably from the same root. See also deer, voice, west, wool

Words that rhyme with wild

child, Childe, mild, self-styled, undefiled, Wilde

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wild

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.