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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)).



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

  1. (intransitive or transitive) To roll along as on wheels.
    Wheel that trolley over here, would you?
  2. (intransitive) To travel around in large circles, particularly in the air.
    The vulture wheeled above us.
    • 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[1]:
      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.
  3. (transitive) To transport something or someone using any wheeled mechanism, such as a wheelchair.
  4. (transitive) To put into a rotatory motion; to cause to turn or revolve; to make or perform in a circle.
    • Gray
      The beetle wheels her droning flight.
    • Milton
      Now heaven, in all her glory, shone, and rolled / Her motions, as the great first mover's hand / First wheeled their course.

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