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A wheelie performed on a bicycle
A boy performing a skateboard wheelie in Barcelona, Spain


wheel +‎ -ie.



wheelie (plural wheelies)

  1. (informal) An action or stunt where a bicycle, motorcycle, or other vehicle is ridden for a short period while it is standing only on its rear wheel or wheels.
    Synonyms: (Australia, Britain) mono, wheelstand
    Jim fell off his bike when he was trying to do a wheelie.
    • 1959, American Jurisprudence Proof of Facts, Annotated: [], volume 30, San Francisco, Calif.: Bancroft-Whitney; Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, →OCLC, page 647:
      With them [bicycles], children can accomplish such unique and delightfully dangerous stunts as “wheelies”—that is, riding at a fast speed with the machine's front wheel raised completely above the ground.
    • 1967 January, “PS Picture News: Drag Bike Rides High on Wheelie-Bars”, in Ernest V. Heyn, editor, The Popular Science Monthly, volume 190, number 1, New York, N.Y.: Popular Science Publishing Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 92:
      Bikes are pointing their noses in the air nowadays with the help of a new gadget called the Wheelie-Bar. By attaching the device to the rear of your cycle, you can tilt back on the hind wheel; wooden skate rollers at the end of the bar let you ride high, the way stock-car dragsters do.
    • 1985 January, “Staying Aloft: Domokos is Up for the Great American Shows Season”, in Greg Harrison, editor, American Motorcyclist: The Monthly Journal of the American Motorcyclist Association, volume 39, number 1, Westerville, Oh.: American Motorcyclist Association, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 18:
      In keeping with his overall emphasis on skill, [Doug] Domokos says his most difficult trick is one he performs on solid ground. During the show, you'll see him pull up the front wheel of his ATV [all-terrain vehicle], then step over the handlebars and continue the wheelie while seated on the headlight.
    • 2004, Muffy Mead-Ferro, “The World Isn’t Childproof”, in Confessions of a Slacker Mom, Cambridge, Mass.: Da Capo Lifelong, →ISBN:
      I learned how to let the clutch out slo-ow-ly so my tractor wouldn't pop a wheely and go hauling over backward.
    • 2018 February, Robert Draper, “They are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet: Technology and Our Increasing Demand for Security have Put Us All under Surveillance. Is Privacy Becoming just a Memory?”, in National Geographic[1], Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 14 June 2018:
      The bikers pop wheelies and execute speedy figure eights along the busy street. Still, something more purposeful than joyriding would seem to be on their minds.
  2. (informal, chiefly Australia) A wheelchair user.
    • 2005, Imogen Edwards-Jones; “Anonymous” [pseudonym], “6–7 am”, in Air Babylon, London: Bantam Press, →ISBN; republished London: Corgi Books, 2006, →ISBN, page 29:
      It is also a nightmare for the wheelies, or wheelchair users. Not only is it hard enough to find a bloody wheelchair in the airport these days, but to push them to this back-of-beyond gate is a job in itself.
    • 2008, Tim Rushby-Smith, chapter 28, in Looking Up: A Humorous and Unflinching Account of Learning to Live Again with Sudden Disability, London: Virgin Books, →ISBN, page 244:
      Of the wheelchair users, or wheelies [], Phil is the other group leader. He has been paraplegic for about ten years. The idea of the group leaders is that they provide support and encouragement from a position of experience.

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wheelie (third-person singular simple present wheelies, present participle wheelying or wheelieing, simple past and past participle wheelied)

  1. (intransitive, informal) To ride, or perform the stunt of riding, a vehicle on its rear wheel or wheels.
    Synonym: wheelstand
    • 1976 June, Russ Darnell, “Pro Techniques for Off-road Riding”, in Bob Atkinson, editor, Cycle World, volume 15, number 1, New York, N.Y.: CBS Publications, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 42, column 1:
      Downshift while the engine is still revving well. This will prevent missed gears when you stomp the shift lever in a panic to regain power. Also, if you wait too long to shift down, you risk the possibility of wheelieing when you catch the next lower cog. A wheelie will cause you to shut off for a second … and it's all over brother. Go back down and try again.
    • 1983, Keith Code; notes and comments by Eddie Lawson, “The Road You Ride”, in A Twist of the Wrist: The Motorcycle Road Racers Handbook, Los Angeles, Calif.: Acrobat Books, →ISBN:
      The other possible problem with uphill, downhill and crested roads is that bikes tend to wheelie over them. This isn't really a problem unless you have to make a turn while the front wheel is still in the air. The rear brake will help to keep the front down.
    • 2002 February, Christina Baldwin, “Ask for What You Need and Offer What You Can”, in The Seven Whispers: A Spiritual Practice for Times Like These, Novato, Calif.: New World Library, →ISBN, pages 67–68:
      Our faces light up for each other, and with the greatest grin he jumps his rusty banana seat off the curb and wheelies around in the space created for him.
    • 2012, Gary LaPlante, “Hillclimbs”, in Steve Casper, editor, How to Ride Off-road Motorcycles: Key Skills and Advanced Training for All Off-road, Motocross, and Dual-sport Riders, Minneapolis, Minn.: Motorbooks, →ISBN, page 70, column 2:
      At some point in nearly any hillclimb, you'll have to shift your weight from the rear to the front to keep the front wheel down as it gets steeper and you get more traction. You can also feather the clutch to keep from wheelying over, as well as using throttle control.
    • 2016, Jason Morgan; Damien Lewis, chapter 13, in A Dog Called Hope: The Wounded Warrior and the Dog who Dared to Love Him, London: Quercus, →ISBN; republished as A Dog Called Hope: A Wounded Warrior and the Service Dog who Saved Him, New York, N.Y.: Atria Books, 2017, →ISBN, pages 111–112:
      I guess I was starting to feel super-confident, a bit like the wheelchair basketball guy who had wheelied out of my hospital room that day. Plus, I was trying to make it so I could laugh in the face of my injuries.



wheelie (comparative wheelier or more wheelie, superlative wheeliest or most wheelie)

  1. (informal) Alternative spelling of wheely (having wheels; mounted on wheels).
    wheelie bag  wheelie bin

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