Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To handle (a weapon or tool, for example) with skill and ease.
  • transitive v. To exercise (authority or influence, for example) effectively. See Synonyms at handle.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To command, rule over; to possess or own.
  • v. To control, to guide or manage.
  • v. To handle with skill and ease, especially of a weapon or tool.
  • v. To exercise (authority or influence) effectively.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To govern; to rule; to keep, or have in charge; also, to possess.
  • transitive v. To direct or regulate by influence or authority; to manage; to control; to sway.
  • transitive v. To use with full command or power, as a thing not too heavy for the holder; to manage; to handle; hence, to use or employ.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To have power or sway over; rule; govern; manage.
  • To use or exert in governing; sway.
  • Hence, in general, to exercise; put to practical or active use, as a means, an instrument, or a weapon; use with freedom and ease: as, to wield a hammer.
  • To have; possess; enjoy.
  • n. Command; power; management.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. handle effectively
  • v. have and exercise

Etymologies

Middle English welden, from Old English wealdan, to rule, and wieldan, to govern.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English wieldan ("to control"), a derivative of wealdan "to govern", from Germanic *walt-. Cognate with German walten, Swedish vålla. Non-Germanic cognates include Albanian ul ("to put down, lower, abate, submit"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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