from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A solid disk or a rigid circular ring connected by spokes to a hub, designed to turn around an axle passed through the center.
  • noun Something resembling such a disk or ring in appearance or movement or having a wheel as its principal part or characteristic, as.
  • noun The steering device on a vehicle.
  • noun A potter's wheel.
  • noun A water wheel.
  • noun A spinning wheel.
  • noun Games A device used in roulette and other games of chance.
  • noun A firework that rotates while burning.
  • noun Informal A bicycle.
  • noun An instrument to which a victim was bound for torture during the Middle Ages.
  • noun Forces that provide energy, movement, or direction.
  • noun The act or process of turning; revolution or rotation.
  • noun A military maneuver executed in order to change the direction of movement of a formation, as of troops or ships, in which the formation is maintained while the outer unit describes an arc and the inner or center unit remains stationary as a pivot.
  • noun Slang A motor vehicle or access thereto.
  • noun Slang A person with a great deal of power or influence.
  • intransitive verb To roll, move, or transport on wheels or a wheel.
  • intransitive verb To cause to turn around or as if around a central axis; revolve or rotate.
  • intransitive verb To provide with wheels or a wheel.
  • intransitive verb To turn around or as if around a central axis; revolve or rotate.
  • intransitive verb To roll or move on or as if on wheels or a wheel.
  • intransitive verb To fly in a curving or circular course.
  • intransitive verb To turn or whirl around in place; pivot.
  • intransitive verb To reverse one's opinion or practice.
  • idiom (at/behind) Operating the steering mechanism of a vehicle; driving.
  • idiom (at/behind) Directing or controlling; in charge.
  • idiom (wheel and deal) To engage in the advancement of one's own interests, especially in a canny, aggressive, or unscrupulous way.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cause to turn, or to move in a circle; make to rotate, revolve, or change direction.
  • To convey on wheels or in a vehicle mounted on wheels.
  • To make or perform in a circle; give a circular direction or form to.
  • To provide with a wheel or wheels: as, to wheel a cart.
  • To cause to move on or as on wheels; rotate; cause to turn: as, to wheel a rank of soldiers.
  • To turn on a wheel.
  • In tanning, to submit to the action of a pin-wheel. See pinwheel, 2.
  • To shape by means of the wheel, as in pottery. See potters' wheel (under potter), and throw, transitive verb, 2.
  • To break upon the wheel. See break.
  • To turn on or as on an axis or about a center; rotate; revolve.
  • To change direction of course, as if moving on a pivot or center.
  • To move in a circular or spiral course.
  • To take a circular course; return upon one's steps; hence, to wander; go out of the straight way.
  • To travel smoothly; go at a round pace; trundle along; roll forward.
  • To move on wheels; specifically, to ride a bicycle or tricycle; travel by means of a bicycle or tricycle.
  • To change or reverse one's opinion or course of action: frequently with about.
  • noun See wheal.
  • noun A movement in drill in which a line changes front without destroying the alinement.
  • noun The driving-wheel of a bicycle which has a releasing-device for freeing the pedals for coasting.
  • noun An erroneous dialectal form of weel.
  • noun A circular frame or solid disk turning on an axis.
  • noun Any instrument, apparatus, machine, or other object shaped like a wheel, or the essential feature of which is a wheel: as, a mill-wheel, a spinning-wheel, or a potters' wheel.
  • noun Nautical, a circular frame with handles projecting from the periphery, and an axle on which are wound the ropes or chains which connect with the rudder for steering a ship; a steering-wheel. Where a ship is steered by steam, in place of an ordinary wheel a small wheel is used, by turning which steam is admitted to the engines which turn the barrel on which the wheel-rope is wound.
  • noun An instrument of torture. See to break on the wheel, under break.


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

[Middle English, from Old English hwēol; see kwel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English whele, from Old English hwēoġol, hwēol, from Proto-Germanic *hwehwlan (cf. West Frisian tsjil, Dutch wiel, Danish hjul), from Proto-Indo-European *kʷekʷlóm, *kʷékʷlos (cf. Tocharian B kokale ("cart, wagon"), Ancient Greek κύκλος (kuklos, "cycle, wheel"), Avestan  (čaxrō), Sanskrit चक्र (cakrá)), reduplication of *kʷel- (“to turn”) (cf. Welsh dymchwel ("to overturn, upset"), Latin colere ("to till, cultivate"), Tocharian A and B käl ("to bear; bring"), Ancient Greek (Aeolic)  (pélesthai, "to be in motion"), Old Church Slavonic коло (kolo, "wheel"), Albanian sjell ("to bring, carry, turn around"), Avestan  (čaraiti, "it circulates"), Sanskrit  (cárati, "it moves, wanders")).


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  • I helped myself onto the stretcher. I was wheeled through the double doors into a bathroom-green room.

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    August 2, 2008

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    August 2, 2008