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See also: Maverick



A portrait of Samuel Maverick, whose name is the source of the word maverick

From the surname of Texas lawyer and politician Samuel Maverick (1803–1870), who refused to brand his cattle.



maverick (comparative more maverick, superlative most maverick)

  1. Showing independence in thoughts or actions.
    He made a maverick decision.
    She is such a maverick person.
  2. Of cattle, unbranded.
    • 1875, Reports of the Committee of Investigation Sent in 1873 by the Mexican Government to the Frontier of Texas:
      Occasionally some young men who have no cattle of their own will take part in these expeditions, or they will give their services by the year to receive a pro rata of all the maverick cattle that may be found.
    • 1963, Harry T. Getty, The San Carlos Indian cattle industry, page 65:
      But I would rather have maverick cattle, they are more accustomed to range conditions. My cattle from the registered herd have not done too well.
    • 2016, Victoria Lamont, Westerns: A Women's History, page 40:
      Attempts to regulate the distribution of maverick cattle throughout the 1880s affected particularly the access of cowboys to mavericks.



maverick (plural mavericks)

  1. An unbranded range animal. [from 1860s]
    • 1872, A Brief Description of Western Texas:
      In this distribution, care is taken to leave not only those which bear the owner's mark and brand, but his due proportion of the mavericks* that have been found upon the expedition.
    • 1884, The National Live-stock Journal, volume 1, page 55:
      Under this law 2,035 mavericks (orphan calves) were discovered and disposed of by the round-up foremen. Formerly the custom was to brand mavericks with the brand of the owner of that portion of the range where they were found. Under the new law, all mavericks are branded with the association brand, and sold at auction.
    • Around 1900, O Henry, A Call Loan
      Long Bill was a graduate of the camp and trail. Luck and thrift, a cool head, and a telescopic eye for mavericks had raised him from cowboy to be a cowman.
  2. (by extension) Anything dishonestly obtained.
  3. One who does not abide by rules. [from 1880s]
    Synonyms: individualist, lone gunman, nonconformist, rebel
    • 1924 May 3, Collier's, volume 73, page 38:
      As a voter, I'm a maverick, don't belong to any party. I believe that John Doe is the best available man for county commissioner, Richard Roe for sheriff, Joe Hicks for governor — but John is a Democrat, Dick is a Republican, and Joe is — well, something else.
    • 1926, The Idaho engineer:
      The relative merits of the civils and the demerits of the electricals were extolled in the following challenge: “To the A.I.E.E., hereinafter referred to as the mavericks of the engineering profession."
  4. One who creates or uses controversial or unconventional ideas or practices.
    • 1947, Norman Burns, The Administration of Higher Institutions Under Changing Conditions:
      We then drift back into our old habits, glorify efficiency, and smile knowingly at the mavericks within the faculty who want the administration to take democracy seriously.
    • 2008, Edzard Ernst; Simon Singh, Trick or Treatment, pages 36–37:
      Florence Nightingale would have been perceived as a maverick during her early career, because she was prioritizing hygiene when everybody else involved in healthcare was focused on other things, such as surgery and pills.
  5. (military) A person in the military who became an officer by going to college while on active duty as an enlisted person.
    • 2013, John T. Kuehn, Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet that Defeated the Japanese Navy:
      They had been working for and with each other for a very long period and their tolerance for “mavericks” was very high, especially if these mavericks continued to get promoted.
  6. (poker slang) A queen and a jack as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em.


See also[edit]


maverick (third-person singular simple present mavericks, present participle mavericking, simple past and past participle mavericked)

  1. (US) To take an unbranded range animal.
    • 1887, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Texas:
      The court permitted the State to prove, over defendant's objections, that Thedford met Noon Tucker and Calvery driving the yearling over to Bachelor's for delivery. Thedford inquired of Noon "if that [meaning the yearling] was one he had mavericked?"
    • 1894, McClure's Magazine, volume 3, page 115:
      For the capricious and uncertain favor of this the only marriageable young lady in the district, all the susceptible and unattached cowboys (of which class the population almost wholly consisted) strove together eagerly and without ceasing, mavericking right and left everything they could lay their hands on, with a running brand L I L, until, when the tenderfoot she had all along been engaged to came out and married her, she brought him great herds of L I L cattle, with which they gayly set up a ranch beneath the noses of the forlorn celibate community.
  2. (by extension) To seize without legal claim.


Further reading[edit]