[ geer ]
See synonyms for gear on
  1. Machinery.

    • a part, as a disk, wheel, or section of a shaft, having cut teeth of such form, size, and spacing that they mesh with teeth in another part to transmit or receive force and motion.

    • an assembly of such parts.

    • one of several possible arrangements of such parts in a mechanism, as an automobile transmission, for affording different relations of torque and speed between the driving and the driven machinery, or for permitting the driven machinery to run in either direction: first gear; reverse gear.

    • a mechanism or group of parts performing one function or serving one purpose in a complex machine: steering gear.

  2. implements, tools, or apparatus, especially as used for a particular occupation or activity; paraphernalia: fishing gear.

  1. a harness, especially of horses.

  2. Nautical.

    • the lines, tackles, etc., of a particular sail or spar.

    • the personal tools, clothing, and other possessions of a sailor.

  3. portable items of personal property, including clothing; possessions: The campers keep all their gear in footlockers.

  4. wearing apparel; clothing: The fashion pages of the Sunday paper are featuring the latest fall gear.

  5. armor or arms.

verb (used with object)
  1. to provide with or connect by gearing.

  2. to put in or into gear.

  1. to provide with gear; supply; equip.

  2. to prepare, adjust, or adapt to a particular situation, person, etc., in order to bring about satisfactory results: The producers geared their output to seasonal demands.

verb (used without object)
  1. to fit exactly, as one part of gearing into another; come into or be in gear.

  1. Slang. great; wonderful.

Verb Phrases
  1. gear down,

    • Automotive. to shift the transmission of a vehicle to a lower gear: The truck driver geared down at the top of the hill.

    • to reduce in scope or intensity: With less income you'll have to gear down your spending habits.

  2. gear up,

    • to make or get ready for a future event or situation: Insiders say the senator is gearing up to run for governor.

    • to get or put on equipment or clothing for a particular purpose: The hikers geared up for the long trek down the mountain.

    • to arouse or excite, as with enthusiasm or expectation: The employees were geared up for a hard battle with management over working hours.

Idioms about gear

  1. in gear,

    • Machinery. in the state in which gears are connected or meshed: The car is in gear.

    • in proper or active working order; functioning continuously without trouble: Every department in this company must be in gear at all times.

  2. in / into high gear, in or into a state of utmost speed, activity, or efficiency: Military rearmament moved into high gear.

  1. out of gear, Machinery. in the state in which gears are not connected or meshed: The engine is out of gear.

  2. shift / switch gears, to change one's attitude, course of action, methods, etc., in an abrupt, dramatic, or unexpected manner: In the middle of the second act the play shifts gears from comedy to tragedy.

Origin of gear

1150–1200; Middle English gere<Old Norse gervi, gørvi; akin to Old English gearwe equipment

Other words for gear

Other words from gear

  • gearless, adjective
  • re·gear, verb
  • un·geared, adjective
  • well-geared, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gear in a sentence

  • I suppose it's some parental promise she's made, or some skin-game buyer has been through here and threw a wrench in the gears.

    David Lannarck, Midget | George S. Harney
  • The purpose of this appliance is to provide a horizontal shaft upon which pulleys or driving gears may be mounted.

  • But all the answer they got was, an emphatic "Don't change gears as if you were running a thrashing machine, Mac."

    Red Pepper Burns | Grace S. Richmond
  • He directed his car into the garage with noiseless shifting of gears.

    Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman | Emma Speed Sampson
  • The gears on the mechanical computer were really sharp and precise; they looked like you could cut yourself on them.

    Makers | Cory Doctorow

British Dictionary definitions for gear


/ (ɡɪə) /

  1. a toothed wheel that engages with another toothed wheel or with a rack in order to change the speed or direction of transmitted motion

  2. a mechanism for transmitting motion by gears, esp for a specific purpose: the steering gear of a boat

  1. the engagement or specific ratio of a system of gears: in gear; high gear

  2. personal equipment and accoutrements; belongings

  3. equipment and supplies for a particular operation, sport, etc: fishing gear

  4. nautical all equipment or appurtenances belonging to a certain vessel, sailor, etc

  5. short for landing gear

  6. informal up-to-date clothes and accessories, esp those bought by young people

  7. slang

    • stolen goods

    • illegal drugs

  8. a less common word for harness (def. 1)

  9. in gear working or performing effectively or properly

  10. out of gear out of order; not functioning properly

  1. (tr) to adjust or adapt (one thing) so as to fit in or work with another: to gear our output to current demand

  2. (tr) to equip with or connect by gears

  1. (intr) to be in or come into gear

  2. (tr) to equip with harness

Origin of gear

C13: from Old Norse gervi; related to Old High German garawī equipment, Old English gearwe

Derived forms of gear

  • gearless, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for gear


[ gîr ]

  1. A wheel with teeth around its rim that mesh with the teeth of another wheel to transmit motion. Gears are used to transmit power (as in a car transmission) or change the direction of motion in a mechanism (as in a differential axle). Fixed ratios of speed in various parts of a machine is often established by the arrangement of gears.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with gear


see high gear; slip a cog (gear).

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.