Word of the Day




an independent person who has ideas and behaviour that are very different from other people’s

Origin and usage

Maverick is an eponym, a word derived from someone’s name. It originally meant an unbranded calf and comes from a Texas rancher called Samuel A. Maverick (1803–70) who did not brand his cattle.


The noun maverick refers to someone who goes their own way without much caring, or even thinking, about what other people do or think. It was first used in this way in 1880, a mere 13 years after the first recorded use of the ‘cattle’ sense, with the adjectival use following six years later.

While the term was was originally used disapprovingly this has shifted over time and nowadays the tone is generally admiring. Mavericks are often described as outspoken, or straight-talking. Maverick is also popular as a proper name, whether for comic-book, film or TV characters, bands, sports teams, organizations, or any product that might benefit from a slightly macho image.


Dirty Harry, for example. Clint Eastwood was not a rogue cop. He was a maverick cop, but he was a good guy.”

(Charlton Heston)

“Maverick is a word which appeals to me more than misfit. Maverick is active, misfit is passive.”

(Alan Rickman)

Related words

contrarian, freethinker, iconoclast

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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