Definition: Wolf

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From Middle English wolf, from Old English wulf, ƿulf, from Proto-West Germanic *wulf, from Proto-Germanic *wulfaz, from Proto-Indo-European *wĺ̥kʷos. See also Saterland Frisian Wulf, West Frisian and Dutch wolf, German Wolf, Norwegian and Danish ulv; also Sanskrit वृक or vṛ́ka, Persian گرگ or gorg, Lithuanian vilkas, Russian волк or volk, Albanian ujk, Latin lupus, Greek λύκος or lýkos, Tocharian B walkwe. Doublet of lobo and lupus.


wolf (plural wolves)

  1. Canis lupus; the largest wild member of the canine subfamily, once found throughout forested areas of northern Europe, Asia, and America; it shares a common ancestry with the domestic dog.
    1. Any of several related canines that resemble Canis lupus in appearance, especially those of the genus Canis.
  2. (music) A wolf tone or wolf note.
    The soft violin solo was marred by persistent wolves.
  3. (figurative) Any very ravenous, rapacious, or destructive person or thing; especially, want; starvation.
    They toiled hard to keep the wolf from the door.
  4. One of the destructive, and usually hairy, larvae of several species of beetles and grain moths.
  5. A white worm which infests granaries, the larva of Nemapogon granella, a tineid moth.
  6. A wolf spider.
  7. A willying machine, to cleanse wool or willow.

Derived terms

  • cry wolf
  • grey wolf
  • Mexican wolf
  • red wolf
  • seawolf
  • Tasmanian wolf
  • werewolf
  • white wolf
  • wolf cub
  • wolf in sheep's clothing
  • wolf interval
  • wolfish
  • wolflike
  • wolf tone
  • wolf worm


wolf (third-person singular simple present wolfs, present participle wolfing, simple past and past participle wolfed)

  1. To devour; to gobble; to eat (something) voraciously.
    She wolfed down the entire bowl of spaghetti in just a few minutes.
  2. To hunt for wolves.


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