- a circular frame with an axle connecting to the rudder of a ship, for steering: He took the wheel during the storm.
- a paddle wheel.
- a propeller.
- moving, propelling, or animating agencies: the wheels of commerce; the wheels of thought.
- Slang.a personal means of transportation, especially a car.
verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- wheatstone bridge,
- wheatstone, sir charles,
- wheel and axle,
- wheel and deal,
- wheel animalcule,
- wheel back,
- wheel blacks
- at the helm of a ship, the steering wheel of a motor vehicle, etc.
- in command or control: Her ambition is to be at the wheel of a large corporation by the age of 40.
Origin of wheel
- driving or steering a vehicle or vessel
- in charge
Word Origin for wheel
"to turn like a wheel," early 13c., from wheel (n.); transitive sense attested from late 14c. Related: Wheeled; wheeling.
Old English hweol, hweogol, from Proto-Germanic *khwekhwlan, *khwegwlan (cf. Old Norse hvel, Old Swedish hiughl, Old Frisian hwel, Middle Dutch weel), from PIE *k(w)e-k(w)lo- "wheel, circle" (cf. Old Church Slavonic kolo "wheel"), a reduplicated form from root *k(w)el- "to go round" (see cycle (n.)).
The root wegh-, "to convey, especially by wheeled vehicle," is found in virtually every branch of Indo-European, including now Anatolian. The root, as well as other widely represented roots such as aks- and nobh-, attests to the presence of the wheel -- and vehicles using it -- at the time Proto-Indo-European was spoken. [Watkins, p. 96]
Figurative sense is early 14c. Slang wheels "a car" is recorded from 1959. Wheeler-dealer is from 1954, a rhyming elaboration of dealer; wheelie is from 1966.
wheels within wheels
Complex interacting processes, agents, or motives, as in It's difficult to find out just which government agency is responsible; there are wheels within wheels. This term, which now evokes the complex interaction of gears, may derive from a scene in the Bible (Ezekiel 1:16): “Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” [c. 1600]
In addition to the idioms beginning with wheel
- wheel and deal
- wheels in motion
- wheels within wheels
- asleep at the switch (wheel)
- at the wheel
- big cheese (wheel)
- cog in the wheel
- fifth wheel
- grease (oil) the wheels
- hell on wheels
- put one's shoulder to the wheel
- reinvent the wheel
- set (wheels) in motion
- spin one's wheels
- squeaky wheel gets the grease