wheel

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English whele, from Old English hwēoġol, hwēol, from Proto-Germanic *hwehwlą, *hweulō (compare West Frisian tsjil, Dutch wiel, Danish hjul), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷekʷlóm, *kʷékʷlos, *kʷékʷléh₂ (compare Tocharian B kokale(cart, wagon), Ancient Greek κύκλος(kúklos, cycle, wheel), Avestan [script needed](čaxrō)[script needed], Sanskrit चक्र(cakrá)), reduplication of *kʷel-(to turn) and a suffix (literally "(the thing that) turns and turns"; compare Welsh dymchwel(to overturn, upset), Latin colere(to till, cultivate), Tocharian A and B käl(to bear; bring), Ancient Greek (Aeolic) πέλεσθαι(pélesthai, to be in motion), Old Church Slavonic коло(kolo, wheel), Albanian sjell(to bring, carry, turn around), Avestan [script needed](čaraiti, it circulates)[script needed], Sanskrit चरति(cárati, it moves, wanders)).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

A wheel on a 1991 Cadillac Fleetwood d'Elegance
Painting of a wheel (instrument of torture)
Wheels of cheese (gouda)

wheel (plural wheels)

  1. A circular device capable of rotating on its axis, facilitating movement or transportation or performing labour in machines.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 5, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      The departure was not unduly prolonged. [] Within the door Mrs. Spoker hastily imparted to Mrs. Love a few final sentiments on the subject of Divine Intention in the disposition of buckets; farewells and last commiserations; a deep, guttural instigation to the horse; and the wheels of the waggonette crunched heavily away into obscurity.
    1. (informal, with "the") A steering wheel and its implied control of a vehicle.
    2. (nautical) The instrument attached to the rudder by which a vessel is steered.
    3. A spinning wheel.
    4. A potter's wheel.
      • Bible, Jeremiah xviii. 3
        Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.
      • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
        Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar / A touch can make, a touch can mar.
    5. (heraldry) This device used as a heraldic charge, usually with six spokes.
  2. A wheel-like device used as an instrument of torture or punishment.
  3. (slang) A person with a great deal of power or influence; a big wheel.
  4. (poker slang) The lowest straight in poker: ace, 2, 3, 4, 5.
  5. (automotive) A wheelrim.
  6. A round portion of cheese.
  7. A Catherine wheel firework.
  8. (obsolete) A rolling or revolving body; anything of a circular form; a disk; an orb.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)
  9. A turn or revolution; rotation; compass.
    • Robert South (1634–1716)
      According to the common vicissitude and wheel of things, the proud and the insolent, after long trampling upon others, come at length to be trampled upon themselves.
    • John Milton (1608-1674)
      [He] throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel.
  10. (computing, dated) A superuser on certain systems.

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Verb[edit]

wheel (third-person singular simple present wheels, present participle wheeling, simple past and past participle wheeled)

  1. (intransitive or transitive) To roll along on wheels.
    Wheel that trolley over here, would you?
    • 1841, “Parliamentary Masons.—Parliamentary Pictures,” Punch, Volume I, p. 162,[1]
      Why should we confine a body of men to making laws, when so many of them might be more usefully employed in wheeling barrows?
    • 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Chapter 28,[2]
      He [] cleared the table; piled everything on the dumb-waiter; gave us our wine-glasses; and, of his own accord, wheeled the dumb-waiter into the pantry.
    • 1916, H. G. Wells, Mr. Britling Sees It Through, Book I, Chapter 1, § 9,[3]
      But two cheerful women servants appeared from what was presumably the kitchen direction, wheeling a curious wicker erection, which his small guide informed him was called Aunt Clatter—manifestly deservedly—and which bore on its shelves the substance of the meal.
    • 1917, A. E. W. Mason, The Affair at the Semiramis Hotel, Chapter 3,[4]
      But before he could move a step a taxi-cab turned into the Adelphi from the Strand, and wheeling in front of their faces, stopped at Calladine's door.
  2. (transitive) To transport something or someone using any wheeled mechanism, such as a wheelchair.
    • 1916, Robert Frost, “A Girl’s Garden” in Mountain Interval, New York: Henry Holt & Co., p. 61,[5]
      She wheeled the dung in the wheelbarrow
      Along a stretch of road;
      But she always ran away and left
      Her not-nice load,
    • 1924, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Mother Mason, Chapter 3,[6]
      Bob was wheeling the baby up and down, Mabel watching him, hawk-eyed, as though she suspected him of harboring intentions of tipping the cab over.
  3. (intransitive) To change direction quickly, turn, pivot, whirl, wheel around.
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Othello, Act I, Scene 1,[7]
      Your daughter, if you have not given her leave,
      I say again, hath made a gross revolt;
      Tying her duty, beauty, wit and fortunes
      In an extravagant and wheeling stranger
      Of here and every where.
    • 1898, Stephen Crane, “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky[8]
      The dog screamed, and, wheeling in terror, galloped headlong in a new direction.
    • 1912, James Stephens, The Charwoman’s Daughter, Chapter 8,[9]
      The gulls in the river were flying in long, lazy curves, dipping down to the water, skimming it an instant, and then wheeling up again with easy, slanting wings.
    • 1922, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Introduction, Chapter 5,[10]
      Enver, Jemal and Feisal watched the troops wheeling and turning in the dusty plain outside the city gate, rushing up and down in mimic camel-battle, or spurring their horses in the javelin game after immemorial Arab fashion.
  4. (transitive) To cause to change direction quickly, turn.
    • 1898, Samuel Butler, The Iliad of Homer, Rendered into English Prose, Book 17,[11]
      [] he did as Menelaus had said, and set off running as soon as he had given his armour to a comrade, Laodocus, who was wheeling his horses round, close beside him.
    • 1931, Robert E. Howard, Hawks of Outremer, Chapter 2,[12]
      Then wheeling his black steed suddenly, he raced away before the dazed soldiers could get their wits together to send a shower of arrows after him.
  5. (intransitive) To travel around in large circles, particularly in the air.
    The vulture wheeled above us.
    • 1829, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Timbuctoo,” lines 63-67,[13]
      [] Each aloft
      Upon his narrowed eminence bore globes
      Of wheeling suns, or stars, or semblances
      Of either, showering circular abyss
      Of radiance.
    • 1917, William Butler Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole,” lines 7-12,[14]
      The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
      Since I first made my count;
      I saw, before I had well finished,
      All suddenly mount
      And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
      Upon their clamorous wings.
    • 1933, Robert Byron, First Russia, Then Tibet, Part II, Chapter 8,[15]
      We could see the poor brute in the bottom, as the vultures came wheeling down like baroque aeroplanes; its ribs were already bare.
    • 2014 September 7, Natalie Angier, “The Moon comes around again [print version: Revisiting a moon that still has secrets to reveal: Supermoon revives interest in its violent origins and hidden face, International New York Times, 10 September 2014, p. 8]”, in The New York Times[16]:
      As the moon wheels around Earth every 28 days and shows us a progressively greater and then stingier slice of its sun-lightened face, the distance between the moon and Earth changes, too. At the nearest point along its egg-shaped orbit, its perigee, the moon may be 26,000 miles closer to us than it is at its far point.
  6. (transitive) To put into a rotatory motion; to cause to turn or revolve; to make or perform in a circle.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book 7, lines 499-501,[17]
      Now Heav’n in all her Glorie shon, and rowld
      Her motions, as the great first-Movers hand
      First wheeld thir course;
    • 1751, Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”, lines 5-8,[18]
      Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
      And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
      Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
      And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
    • 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Sunrise on the Hills,”[19]
      [] upward, in the mellow blush of day,
      The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way.

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