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Sep 1, 2009
This week's theme
Animal terms

This week's words
bird-dog
wildcatter
frogmarch
mawkish
shrew

A Caracal
lynx
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

wildcatter

PRONUNCIATION:
(WYLD-kat-uhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. One who drills for oil speculatively.
2. One who promotes an unsafe or fraudulent enterprise.
3. A worker who takes part in a wildcat strike: a sudden strike not authorized by the labor union.

ETYMOLOGY:
Before the currency was centrally issued in the US, each bank printed its own currency notes. Often these notes were not backed by capital and were risky. It's said that the notes by one of those banks featured a drawing of a wildcat. From there the term wildcat took the sense of anything risky, rash, or unreliable. It's now used in many senses allusively, such as a wildcat well: an exploratory oil well in an area not known to be productive; a wildcat strike: a rash strike not sanctioned by a union official.

USAGE:
"The legendary wildcatter and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens has decided that drilling for more oil is not the answer to America's energy problems."
A Texas Wildcatter Rides the Wind; The New York Times; Jul 22, 2008.

See more usage examples of wildcatter in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Of course you will insist on modesty in the children, and respect to their teachers, but if the boy stops you in your speech, cries out that you are wrong and sets you right, hug him! -Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer and philosopher (1803-1882)

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