from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A person who shows independence of thought and action, especially by refusing to adhere to the policies of a group to which he or she belongs.
  • noun An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it.
  • adjective Characterized by or displaying independence of thought and action.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To seize or brand (an animal) as a maverick; hence, to take possession of without any legal claim; appropriate dishonestly or illegally: as, to maverick a piece of land.
  • noun On the great cattle-ranges of the United States, an animal found without an owner's brand, particularly a calf away from its dam, on which the finder puts his own or his employer's brand; or one of a number of such animals gathered in a general round-up or muster of the herds of different owners feeding together, which are distributed in a manner agreed upon.
  • noun Hence—2. Anything dishonestly obtained, as a saddle, mine, or piece of land.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun In the southwestern part of the united States, a bullock or heifer that has not been branded, and is unclaimed or wild; -- said to be from Maverick, the name of a cattle owner in Texas who neglected to brand his cattle.
  • transitive verb Western U. S. To take a maverick.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Showing independence in thoughts or actions.
  • noun An unbranded range animal.
  • noun One who does not abide by rules.
  • noun One who creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.
  • noun poker slang A queen and a jack as a starting hand in Texas hold ’em

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action
  • adjective independent in behavior or thought
  • noun an unbranded range animal (especially a stray calf); belongs to the first person who puts a brand on it


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Possibly after Samuel Augustus Maverick, (1803–1870), American cattleman who left the calves in his herd unbranded .]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the surname of Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning "valiant hero". An alternative etymology proposes the Hebrew word מבריק (maḇərīq) "shiny, brilliant" as origin.


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  • Who You Callin’ a Maverick?

    There’s that word again: maverick. In Thursday’s vice-presidential debate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican candidate, used it to describe herself and her running mate, Senator John McCain, no fewer than six times, at one point calling him “the consummate maverick.�?

    But to those who know the history of the word, applying it to Mr. McCain is a bit of a stretch — and to one Texas family in particular it is even a bit offensive.

    “I’m just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick,�? said Terrellita Maverick, 82, a San Antonio native who proudly carries the name of a family that has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants.

    In the 1800s, Samuel Augustus Maverick went to Texas and became known for not branding his cattle. He was more interested in keeping track of the land he owned than the livestock on it, Ms. Maverick said; unbranded cattle, then, were called “Maverick’s.�? The name came to mean anyone who didn’t bear another’s brand.

    October 7, 2008

  • Interesting, Lampbane! I was thinking about the history of the word and how it doesn't really apply in this case, but I didn't know all this family history. Thanks for posting.

    This was my favorite part of the article:

    "“It’s just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he’s not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, ‘Oh, my God, he said it again.’�?

    “He’s a Republican,�? she said. “He’s branded.�?

    October 7, 2008

  • *wink*

    October 9, 2008

  • He did not say it at all during the second debate. Thanks in no small part to Tina Fey methinks.

    October 9, 2008

  • I should remove this word from my "A spoonful of sugar" list, since there is no way I can possibly forget the meaning of this word after the Palin-bombing.

    October 9, 2008

  • *wondering how many of us played the "my friends" drinking game during the second debate*

    *wondering how many are still hung over*

    October 9, 2008

  • Tom Selleck played. Moustache probably still drooping :-{

    October 9, 2008

  • James Garner played. I hope.

    October 9, 2008

  • What is a maverick's brand?

    October 13, 2008

  • Something that de-mavericks a maverick.

    October 13, 2008

  • Years ago in an IBM revue : the meaning was somebody without experience

    June 7, 2010