Are the children running wild? Tim Bowen brings some order with a handy article on word grammar.

Apart from its more common adjectival meanings, wild can also mean ‘not accurate or not considered carefully’, as in ‘They make all kinds of wild promises but no-one believes them’ or ‘I’m not sure. I’ll have to make a wild guess’.

As an adjective, wild is also used in a couple of idioms. If you say you are not wild about something, you mean that you do not like it or you do not want to do it, as in ‘To be perfectly honest, I’m not wild about the idea of investing hard-earned money in a business like this in the current economic climate’.

The expression your wildest dreams is used to refer to your thoughts about the best or worst thing that could possibly happen, as in ‘She became rich beyond her wildest dreams’ or ‘Never in my wildest dreams  did I imagine I’d end up living here’. Wild can also function as an adverb meaning ‘in a natural or uncontrolled way’, as in ‘I found these flowers growing wild in the garden’. If children run wild, they are out of control, as in ‘They just let their kids run wild all summer long’.

As a noun, wild is used with the definite article to refer to an environment that is natural, as in ‘Most of us have never seen these creatures in the wild’.

Used in the plural followed by the preposition of, this can be used to refer to an area where few or no people live, as in ‘We spent the whole summer hiking in the wilds of northern Norway’.