A wildcatter is an American term for a person who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields. A wildcatter notable for his success was Texan oil tycoon Glenn McCarthy.
- "The discovery of the fluid in New York State was the signal for a general exodus of wildcatters from all parts of the oil country ..."
One explanation of the term is that it derived from wildcat banking and came to be applied to risky oil ventures. Another explanation is that wildcat wells were drilled far from existing settlements, where only wildcats lived. But wildcat was American slang for any risky business venture by 1838, long before the petroleum industry.
- "From Parker City," Titusville (Penn.) Herald, 1 March 1880, p.3.
- Christine Ammer.It's Raining Cats and Dogs ... and Other Beastly Expressions (New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1989) 152.
See also 
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