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 ?
MARIA Sharapova is to be offered a wild card into the Aegon Classic in Birmingham next month, according to reports.
team (2003 WS champs over the New York Yankees), but they could snag a wild card spot this season.
BRITISH players will have to battle through a new play-off system to earn a valuable Wimbledon wild card this year.
The instant replay, interleague play, and the wild card are here to stay.
We spent a lot of time deciding on the wild cards and we have done the best possible job," said Karti Chidambaram, who is actively involved in hosting the event.
According to FUTURIST editor Edward Cornish, author of Futuring: The Exploration of the Future, a wild card is "an unexpected event that would have enormous consequences if it actually occurred.
Joshua Goodall and Jonathan Marray have also been handed wild cards for the men's singles, which start on June 25.
But Querrey received the highest honor of his brief professional career when the USTA selected the Thousand Oaks High graduate as one of seven American men to receive a wild card into the singles main draw of next week's U.
SCOTTISH snooker star Stephen Maguire has been given a wild card for next year's Wembley Masters.
Tournament organisers said yesterday Dent and Bhupathi would be two of the four wild cards in the 32-player singles draw at the pounds 280,000 event.
Competing in the Men's division will be the top 24 Men's teams from the 2002 event, plus two wild cards from each of the three regions, plus an additional two wild cards appointed by the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Committee.
To be Faldo's Ryder Cup wild cards (Stan James): 2-11 P Casey, 1-4 D Clarke, 5-2 I Poulter, 9-2 C Montgomerie.
The boys' 18-under singles finalist and the boys' 16-under singles champion will receive wild cards into the Legg-Mason qualifying draw.
Three of the eight wild cards for the men's singles have yet to be awarded and Wimbledon organisers explained that "at least one wild card" was always held back to the end of this week "in case a player with an outstanding claim asks for one.
The sum of these factors allows us to determine which wild cards are worth worrying about.