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See also: Maverick



From the surname of Texas lawyer and politician Samuel Maverick (1803–1870), who refused to brand his cattle.[1] See Maverick.

Mr. Samuel Maverick was, incidentally, the grandfather of former congressman Maury Maverick, who coined the term gobbledygook.

The poker noun sense (“a queen and a jack as a starting hand in Texas hold 'em”) may be from the theme song of the US Western television series Maverick (1957–1962), which says of the eponymous protagonist that “[g]amblin’ is his game” and that he is “livin’ on jacks and queens”.[2]



maverick (comparative more maverick, superlative most maverick)

  1. (of cattle) Unbranded.
    • 1875, “Investigating Commission of the Northern Frontier”, in Reports of the Committee of Investigation Sent in 1873 by the Mexican Government to the Frontier of Texas. [], New York, N.Y.: Baker & Godwin, printers, [], →OCLC, section V, pages 62–63:
      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. [Quoted from The Texas New Yorker, pages 110–111.]
    • 1963, Harry T. Getty, The San Carlos Indian Cattle Industry (Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona; no. 7), Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press, →OCLC, 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, “Western Violence and the Limits of Sentimental Power”, in Westerns: A Women’s History, Lincoln, Neb., London: University of Nebraska Press, →ISBN, page 40:
      Attempts to regulate the distribution of maverick cattle throughout the 1880s affected particularly the access of cowboys to mavericks.
  2. Showing independence in thoughts or actions.
    He made a maverick decision.  She is such a maverick person.
    • 2003, Leon Claire Metz, “Maverick”, in The Encyclopedia of Lawmen, Outlaws, and Gunfighters, New York, N.Y.: Facts On File, →ISBN, page 170, column 2:
      A maverick person tends to be wild, unsettled, and irresponsible, often an outlaw not bound by the rules and mores of society.
    • 2013, Jim Eldridge, “The Thinking Machine”, in Alan Turing (Real Lives), London: A. & C. Black, →ISBN, page 17:
      John Maynard Keynes, the internationally renowned economist, was impressed by Alan [Turing]'s work, and his unorthodox style. [] It is quite likely that Keynes viewed Alan and his maverick attitude to maths research sympathetically.



maverick (plural mavericks)

  1. An unbranded range animal. [from 1860s]
    • 1872, W. G. Kingsbury, “Cattle-raising in Western Texas. How It is Conducted—Profits of the Business, &c.”, in A Brief Description of Western Texas, [], San Antonio, Tx.: Herald Steam Job Printing House and Book Bindery, →OCLC, page 36:
      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. [footnote: *The term "maverick" is applied in this country to all animals that have neither mark nor brand upon them, and originated in this way: []]
    • 1884, The National Live-stock Journal, volume 1, Chicago, Ill.: George W. Rust & Co., →OCLC, page 55, column 3:
      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.
    • 1904, O. Henry [pseudonym; William Sydney Porter], “A Call Loan”, in Heart of the West, [Garden City, N.Y.]: Published by Doubleday, Page & Company for Review of Reviews Co., →OCLC, page 241:
      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. (by extension) One who is unconventional or does not abide by rules. [from 1880s]
    Synonyms: heteroclite, individualist, lone gunman, nonconformist, rebel; see also Thesaurus:maverick
    • 1924 May 3, Collier’s, volume 73, Springfield, Oh.: Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, →OCLC, 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 Engineers’ Basketball Contest: Civils vs. Electricals”, in The Idaho Engineer, Boise, Ida.: Idaho Society of Professional Engineers, →OCLC, page 70:
      The relative merits of the civils and the demerits of the electricals were extolled in the following challenge: “To the A.I.E.E. [American Institute of Electrical Engineers], hereinafter referred to as the mavericks of the engineering profession."
    • 2021 February 2, Katharine Murphy, The Guardian[2]:
      If representation and recruitment is an objective, self-styled mavericks like Kelly and his Queensland sidekick George Christensen have some utility.
  4. (by extension) One who creates or uses controversial or unconventional ideas or practices.
  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, “The Navy, Treaties, and Innovation”, in Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet that Defeated the Japanese Navy, Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, →ISBN, page 9:
      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.



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, A. M. Jackson, A. M. Jackson, Jr., Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Texas, Austin, Tx.: Hutchings Printing House, →OCLC, page 514:
      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 July, Alice MacGowan, “The Heraldry of the Plains”, in McClure’s Magazine, volume III, number 2, New York, N.Y., London: S[amuel] S[idney] McClure, Limited, →OCLC, 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 a legal claim.


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Leon Claire Metz (2003), “Maverick”, in The Encyclopedia of Lawmen, Outlaws, and Gunfighters, New York, N.Y.: Facts On File, →ISBN, page 170, column 2.
  2. ^ Nicolae Sfetcu (2014) About Online Poker[1], [s.l.]: MultiMedia; Nicolae Sfetcu.
  • Michael Weisenberg, compiler (1999) The Official Dictionary of Poker, Inglewood, Calif.: Mike Caro University of Poker, →ISBN; Tom Dalzell (2012), “maverick”, in The Slang of Poker, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, →ISBN, page 155: “maverick / a queen and jack as the first two cards in a hold 'em hand.”

Further reading[edit]