feather

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See also: Feather

English[edit]

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 feþer, from Old English feþer, from Proto-West Germanic *feþru, from Proto-Germanic *feþrō (compare West Frisian fear, German Low German Fedder, Dutch veder, veer, German Feder, Yiddish פֿעדער(feder), Danish fjer, Swedish fjäder, Norwegian Bokmål fjær, fjør, Norwegian Nynorsk fjør), from Proto-Indo-European *péth₂r̥ (feather, wing), from *peth₂- (to fly). Cognate with Ancient 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, chapter V, in The Beasts of Tarzan:
      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.
    Synonyms: feathers, feathering, horsefeathers
    Antonym: spats
  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").
  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.
  8. Anything petty or trifling; a whit or jot.
    • 1823, An Ecclesiastical Memoir of Essex Street Religious Society
      To some pew purchasers he gave deeds, to others he gave, none, but both were promised security, and both it seems were equally secure, for the pew deed as Mr. Melledge declared to Mr. G. was not worth a feather.
  9. (hunting, in the plural) Partridges and pheasants, as opposed to rabbits and hares (called fur).
  10. (rail transport) A junction indicator attached to a colour-light signal at an angle, which lights up, typically with four white lights in a row, when a diverging route is set up.
    • 2020 December 30, David Allen, “Unusual signals...: Morpeth Signal M123”, in Rail, page 64:
      Signal M123 is a conventional 3-aspect colour light with three Junction Indicators - commonly known as 'feathers'.

Synonyms[edit]

  • plume (archaic, literary and poetic), pluma (archaic)

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; (when of an arrow) to fletch.
    • 1692, Roger L’Estrange, “ (please specify the fable number.) (please specify the name of the fable.)”, in Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: [], London: [] R[ichard] Sare, [], OCLC 228727523:
      An Eagle had the ill Hap to be Struck with an Arrow Feather'd from her own Wing.
    • 1912, Frances, Object-lessons on Temperance, Or, The Indian Maiden and Her White Deer, page 117:
      Olondaw had taught Hazeleye how to use her bow and arrows, and that each might know the result of his or her own shooting, he had feathered her arrow with white and his own with red. How strange are the events of this life, []
    • 2007, Thomas Perry, Vanishing Act, Ballantine Books (→ISBN), page 302:
      She feathered her arrows in the Seneca fashion, two lengths of feather tied on with a spiral twist, so they would spin in flight. The trick was to glue both sides in place with a little sticky pine sap so they would stay put while she tied them []
  2. To adorn, as if with feathers; to fringe.
  3. To arrange in the manner or appearance of feathers.
    The stylist feathered my hair.
  4. (transitive, intransitive, rowing) To rotate the oars while they are out of the water to reduce wind resistance.
  5. (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 does not windmill during flight.
    After striking the bird, the pilot feathered the left, damaged engine’s propeller.
  6. (carpentry, engineering) To finely shave or bevel an edge.
  7. (computer graphics) To intergrade or blend the pixels of an image with those of a background or neighboring image.
  8. To render light as a feather; to give wings to.
    • c. 1650, Robert Loveday, letter to Mr. C.
      The Polonian story, which perhaps may feather some tedious hours.
  9. To enrich; to exalt; to benefit.
    (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?)
  11. (snooker, billiards) To move the cue back and forth along the bridge in preparation for striking the cue ball.
  12. (snooker, billiards) To accidentally touch the cue ball with the tip of the cue when taking aim.
  13. To touch lightly, like (or as if with) a feather.
    • 2001, Joan Hohl, Maybe Tomorrow, Zebra Books (→ISBN), page 186:
      His breath feathered her lips; her spine, her legs weakened, went soft at the wafting warmth.
    • 2006, Gary Parker, Her Daddy's Eyes, Baker Books (→ISBN), page 143:
      A soft breeze feathered her face and hair. The smell of honeysuckle blanketed the air. She concentrated on shutting out every sound except the whisper of her heart. Gradually the inner distractions became fewer.
  14. To move softly, like a feather.
    • 2005, Radclyffe, Justice Served, Bold Strokes Books Inc (→ISBN):
      She feathered her fingers through Mitchell's hair. “Besides, I like you a whole lot better than Frye.”
    • 2011, L.L. Raand, Blood Hunt, Bold Strokes Books Inc (→ISBN):
      “Asking me not to breathe would be simpler,” Drake said. “If I could spare you what's coming—” “No.” Drake feathered her fingers through Sylvan's hair. “We fight together.” Sylvan nodded and relaxed in her embrace. Drake didn't fear death.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

Anagrams[edit]