wild card

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wild card

1. In a card game, a card that the player can choose to represent any card. He's going to play his wild card as an ace to win.
2. Someone or something that is unpredictable. He is too much of a wild card to be a successful candidate. Nobody wants to vote for someone wildly unpredictable. The wild card in this game will be the weather.
3. A person or team who is permitted to participate in an event or competition, such as a round of playoffs, without having to adhere to the usual entry protocol. The wild card rarely wins the championship, but anything is possible.
4. In computing, a character that is substituted for an unknown character in a search. An asterisk is often used as a wild card in database searches.
See also: card, wild

wild card

An unpredictable person or event, as in Don't count on his support-he's a wild card, or A traffic jam? That's a wild card we didn't expect. This expression comes from card games, especially poker, where it refers to a card that can stand for any rank chosen by the player who holds it. The term was adopted in sports for an additional player or team chosen to take part in a contest after the regular places have been taken. It is also used in computer terminology for a symbol that stands for one or more characters in searches for files that share a common specification. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1900s.
See also: card, wild

a wild card

You describe someone or something as a wild card when they cause uncertainty because nobody knows how they will behave or what effects they will have. Some Italians think of her as a possible wild card in next year's presidential election. Note: In games such as poker, a wild card is a card that can have any value a player chooses.
See also: card, wild
References in periodicals archive ?
Sharapova was denied a wildcard for the French Open, missed Wimbledon through injury and reached the US Open's fourth round as a wildcard before losing to Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.
The move by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) comes after Sharapova, ranked 148th this week, was rejected for a wildcard spot into the French Open and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.
MARIA Sharapova has taken the decision on whether she should be given a wildcard to Wimbledon out of the tournament's hands by announcing she will compete in the qualifying rounds.
Now Wimbledon will come under huge pressure not to offer the convicted doping offender a wildcard into the main draw at SW19.
You can get a wildcard when you return from injury but not when returning from a doping suspension.
Twice former champion Maria Sharapova was surprisingly denied a wildcard into the French Open on Tuesday — ending intense speculation about her place in the claycourt slam since she returned from a 15-month doping ban.
Two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova has been denied a wildcard to this year's tournament.
Stuttgart was the first event to hand her a wildcard, which was not surprising as the event is sponsored by Porsche, one of the Russian's many high-profile personal sponsors.
Coaches Natalie Bassingthwaigthe, Ronan Keating, Redfoo and Dannii Minogue have also asked viewers to vote for a Wildcard who will join the 12 artists in the live shows.
He has also been granted a wildcard for the men's doubles at SW19.
YOUNG musicians can still win a wildcard entry to a Battle of the Bands event in Darlington.
FORMER British number one Elena Baltacha, who reached the second round of Wimbledon five years ago, has been given a wildcard by the All England Club.
It's a no-value round because there's no money or ranking points available so I don't really know how to approach it," said Walden, who also played a wildcard in Beijing last year.
Snooker legend Steve Davis has been handed a wildcard entry to the Millennium Regal Masters in Motherwell.
Beyond macroeconomic concerns, a wildcard weighing on the outlook for 2007 and 2008 is uncertainty surrounding the behavior of the new class of nontraditional U.