feather

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English[edit]

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Parts of a feather:
1. vane
2. rachis, shaft
3. barbs
4. hyporachis, afterfeather
5. calamus, quill
Feathers on a Clydesdale horse

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English fether, from Old English feþer, from Proto-Germanic *feþrō (compare West Frisian fear, Low German Fedder, Dutch veder, veer, German Feder, Danish fjer, Swedish fjäder), from Proto-Indo-European *péth₂r̥ ~ pth₂én- (feather, wing), from *peth₂- (to fly). The Indo-European root is also the source of Greek πέτομαι (pétomai), Albanian shpend (bird), Latin penna, Old Armenian թիռ (tʿiṙ).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

feather (plural feathers)

  1. A branching, hair-like structure that grows on the bodies of birds, used for flight, swimming, protection and display.
    • 1873, W. K. Brooks, "A Feather", Popular Science Monthly, volume IV, page 687
      Notice, too, that the shaft is not straight, but bent so that the upper surface of the feather is convex, and the lower concave.
    • 1914, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Beasts of Tarzan, chapter V
      Big fellows they were, all of them, their barbaric headdresses and grotesquely painted faces, together with their many metal ornaments and gorgeously coloured feathers, adding to their wild, fierce appearance.
    • 2000, C. J. Puotinen, The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care‎, page 362
      Nesting birds pluck some of their own feathers to line the nest, but feather plucking in pet birds is entirely different.
  2. Long hair on the lower legs of a dog or horse, especially a draft horse, notably the Clydesdale breed. Narrowly only the rear hair.
  3. One of the fins or wings on the shaft of an arrow.
  4. A longitudinal strip projecting from an object to strengthen it, or to enter a channel in another object and thereby prevent displacement sideways but permit motion lengthwise; a spline.
  5. Kind; nature; species (from the proverbial phrase "birds of a feather").
    • Shakespeare
      I am not of that feather to shake off / My friend when he must need me.
  6. One of the two shims of the three-piece stone-splitting tool known as plug and feather or plug and feathers; the feathers are placed in a borehole and then a wedge is driven between them, causing the stone to split.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Knight to this entry?)
  7. The angular adjustment of an oar or paddle-wheel float, with reference to a horizontal axis, as it leaves or enters the water.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

  • (horse hair at rear of lower legs): spats

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

feather (third-person singular simple present feathers, present participle feathering, simple past and past participle feathered)

  1. To cover or furnish with feathers.
    • L'Estrange
      An eagle had the ill hap to be struck with an arrow feathered from her own wing.
  2. To arrange in the manner or appearance of feathers.
    The stylist feathered my hair.
  3. (transitive, intransitive, rowing) To rotate the oars while they are out of the water to reduce wind resistance.
  4. (aeronautics) To streamline the blades of an aircraft's propeller by rotating them perpendicular to the axis of the propeller when the engine is shut down so that the propeller doesn't windmill as the aircraft flies.
    After striking the bird, the pilot feathered the left, damaged engine's propeller.
  5. (carpentry, engineering) To finely shave or bevel an edge.
  6. (computer graphics) To intergrade or blend the pixels of an image with those of a background or neighboring image.
  7. To adorn, as with feathers; to fringe.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      A few birches and oaks still feathered the narrow ravines.
  8. To render light as a feather; to give wings to.
    • Loveday
      The Polonian story perhaps may feather some tedious hours.
  9. To enrich; to exalt; to benefit.
    • Francis Bacon
      They stuck not to say that the king cared not to plume his nobility and people to feather himself.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)
  10. To tread, as a cock.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]