• synonyms


[pin-yuh n]
See more synonyms for pinion on Thesaurus.com
  1. Machinery.
    1. a gear with a small number of teeth, especially one engaging with a rack or larger gear.
    2. a shaft or spindle cut with teeth engaging with a gear.
  2. Metalworking. a gear driving a roll in a rolling mill.
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Origin of pinion1

1650–60; < French pignon cogwheel, Middle French peignon, derivative of peigne comb, variant of pigne < Latin pectin- (stem of pecten) comb; see pecten
Related formspin·ion·less, adjectivepin·ion·like, adjective


[pin-yuh n]
  1. the distal or terminal segment of the wing of a bird consisting of the carpus, metacarpus, and phalanges.
  2. the wing of a bird.
  3. a feather.
  4. the flight feathers collectively.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to cut off the pinion of (a wing) or bind (the wings), as in order to prevent a bird from flying.
  2. to disable or restrain (a bird) in such a manner.
  3. to bind (a person's arms or hands) so they cannot be used.
  4. to disable (someone) in such a manner; shackle.
  5. to bind or hold fast, as to a thing: to be pinioned to one's bad habits.
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Origin of pinion2

1400–50; late Middle English pynyon < Middle French pignon wing, pinion < Vulgar Latin *pinniōn (stem of pinniō), derivative of Latin pinna feather, wing, fin
Related formsun·pin·ioned, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pinion

Historical Examples

  • It is only a short essay, just to try the strength of my Muse's pinion in that way.

    The Letters of Robert Burns

    Robert Burns

  • Take your kerchief, Kenneth, and pinion his wrists behind him.

    The Tavern Knight

    Rafael Sabatini

  • In the latter case, the small one is the pinion, and the larger one the spur wheel.

  • Now a spur gear, as well as a pinion, has three diameters; one measurep.

  • The father throws the pinion into the fire, and the eagle appears.

British Dictionary definitions for pinion


  1. mainly poetic a bird's wing
  2. the part of a bird's wing including the flight feathers
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verb (tr)
  1. to hold or bind (the arms) of (a person) so as to restrain or immobilize him
  2. to confine or shackle
  3. to make (a bird) incapable of flight by removing that part of (the wing) from which the flight feathers grow
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Word Origin

C15: from Old French pignon wing, from Latin pinna wing


  1. a cogwheel that engages with a larger wheel or rack, which it drives or by which it is driven
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Word Origin

C17: from French pignon cogwheel, from Old French peigne comb, from Latin pecten comb; see pecten
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

Word Origin and History for pinion


"wing joint, segment of a bird's wing," mid-15c., from Old French pignon "wing-feather, wing, pinion" (c.1400), from Vulgar Latin *pinnionem (nominative *pinnio), augmentative of Latin pinna "wing" (see pin (n.)).

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"small wheel with teeth to gear with a larger one" (as in rack and pinion), 1650s, from French pignon "pinion" (16c.), literally "gable," from Old French pignon "pointed gable, summit," from Vulgar Latin *pinnionem, augmentative of Latin pinna "battlement, pinnacle" (see pin (n.)).

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"disable by binding the arms," 1550s, older in English than literal sense "cut or bind the pinions (of a bird's wing) to prevent flying" (1570s); from pinion (n.1). Related: Pinioned.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper