Now, the VOA Special English program, Words and Their Stories. Today, we tell about the word wildcat.
Humans have always depended on animals. From the beginning of human history, wild animals provided food, clothing and sometimes medicine.
We may not depend as much on wild animals now. But we hear about them every day. Americans use the names of animals in many ways.
Many companies use animals to make us want to buy their goods. Automobile companies, for example, love to show fast horses when they are trying to sell their cars. They also name their cars for other fast powerful animals.
Automobile manufacturers and gasoline companies especially like to use big cats to sell their products. They like lions, tigers and wildcats.
When Americans say wildcat, they usually mean a lynx, an ocelot or a bobcat. All these cats attack quickly and fiercely. So wildcats represent something fast and fierce.
What better way is there to sell a car than to say it is as fast as a wildcat. Or, what better way is there to sell gasoline than to say that using it is like putting a tiger in your tank.
An early American use of the word wildcat was quite different. It was used to describe members of Congress who declared war on Britain in eighteen twelve. A magazine of that year said the wildcat congressmen went home. It said they were unable to face the responsibility of having involved their country in an unnecessary war.
Wildcat also has been used as a name for money. It was used this way in the eighteen hundreds. At that time, some states permitted banks to make their own money. One bank in the state of Michigan offered paper money with a picture of a wildcat on it.
Some banks, however, did not have enough gold to support all the paper money they offered. So the money had little or no value. It was called a wildcat bill or a wildcat bank note. The banks who offered this money were called wildcat banks.
然而，一些银行没有足够的黄金储备来支持他们所发行的货币。所以这些货币价值很低或毫无价值。这种货币就被称为wildcat或wildcat bank note，发行这种货币的银行被称为wildcat banks 。
A newspaper of the time said those were the days of wildcat money. It said a man might be rich in the morning and poor by night.
当时的一家报纸称，当时是 wildcat money（准备金不足而发行的纸币）泛滥的时代。一个人可能早上还是富豪，晚上就成穷光蛋了。
Wildcat was used in another way in the eighteen hundreds. It was used for an oil well or gold mine that had almost no oil or gold in it. Dishonest developers would buy such property. Then they would sell it and leave town with the money. The buyers were left with worthless holes in the ground. Today, wildcat oil wells are in areas that are not known to have oil.
19世纪，wildcat还有另一种用法。它被用于几乎没有石油的油井或没有黄金的金矿。奸诈的开发商会买下这样的资产，然后将其出售后携款潜逃。买家得到的只是一个毫无价值的大洞。如今，wildcat oil wells（探井）都位于未探明石油地区。注：探井是指为了勘探石油而钻的井。
Yet another kind of wildcat is the wildcat strike. That is a strike called without official approval by a union. During World War Two, an American publication accused wildcat strikers of slowing government production.