noun (used with a plural verb)

Also called aviation badge. Military Informal. a badge bearing the image of a spread pair of bird's wings with a distinctive center design, awarded to an aircrewman on completion of certain requirements.
a gold-embroidered green badge in the shape of a spread pair of bird wings worn by junior and cadette Girl Scouts to indicate previous membership in a Brownie troop.




either of the two forelimbs of most birds and of bats, corresponding to the human arms, that are specialized for flight.
either of two corresponding parts in flightless birds, which may be rudimentary, as in certain ratite birds, or adapted for swimming, as in penguins.
one of the paired, thin, lateral extensions of the body wall of an insect, located on the mesothorax and the metathorax, by means of which it flies.
a similar structure with which gods, angels, demons, etc., are conceived to be provided for the purpose of flying.
Slang. an arm of a human being, especially a baseball player's pitching or throwing arm.
a means or instrument of flight, travel, or progress.
the act or manner of flying.
something resembling or likened to a bird's wing, as a vane or sail of a windmill.
  1. one of a pair of airfoils attached transversely to the fuselage of an aircraft and providing lift.
  2. both airfoils, taken collectively.
Architecture. a part of a building projecting on one side of, or subordinate to, a central or main part.
Furniture. either of two forward extensions of the sides of the back of an easy chair.
either of the two side portions of an army or fleet, usually called right wing and left wing, and distinguished from the center; flank units.
an administrative and tactical unit of the U.S. Air Force consisting of two or more groups, headquarters, and certain supporting and service units.
(in flight formation) noting a position to the side and just to the rear of another airplane.
Fortification. either of the longer sides of a crownwork, uniting it to the main work.
Sports. (in some team games) any one of the positions, or a player in such a position, on the far side of the center position, known as the left and right wings with reference to the direction of the opposite goal.
  1. the platform or space on the right or left of the stage proper.
  2. wing flat.
Anatomy. an ala: the wings of the sphenoid.
  1. any leaflike expansion, as of a samara.
  2. one of the two side petals of a papilionaceous flower.
either of the parts of a double door, screen, etc.
the feather of an arrow.
a faction within a political party, as at one extreme or the other: conflict between the right wing and the left wing.
Nautical. one of the far side areas of the hold of a merchant vessel.
British. a fender of an automobile, truck, bicycle, or other vehicle.

verb (used with object)

to equip with wings.
to enable to fly, move rapidly, etc.; lend speed or celerity to.
to supply with a winglike part, a side structure, etc.
to transport on or as on wings.
to perform or accomplish by wings.
to traverse in flight.
to wound or disable in the wing: to wing a bird.
to wound (a person) in an arm or other nonvital part.
to bring down (as a flying bird) by a shot.
Informal. to throw; lob: He winged a ball through the neighbor's window.
to brush or clean with a wing.
Theater. to perform (a part, role, etc.) relying on prompters in the wings.

verb (used without object)

to travel on or as if on wings; fly; soar: They are winging to the coast.

Origin of wing

1125–75; Middle English wenge (plural noun) < Old Danish wingæ; compare Norwegian, Swedish vinge, Old Norse vǣngr
Related formsout·wing, verb (used with object) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wings

Contemporary Examples of wings

Historical Examples of wings

  • And the third time I said, 'Behold the winged separates from that which hath no wings.'


    Lydia Maria Child

  • The voice again said, 'Behold the winged separates from that which hath no wings!'


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Tarleton advanced, with his infantry in the centre, and his cavalry on the wings.

  • I was thinking of my dream, and says I: 'Did she have her wings on?'

  • The ornithopter has hinged planes which work like the wings of a bird.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

British Dictionary definitions for wings



either of the modified forelimbs of a bird that are covered with large feathers and specialized for flight in most species
one of the organs of flight of an insect, consisting of a membranous outgrowth from the thorax containing a network of veins
either of the organs of flight in certain other animals, esp the forelimb of a bat
  1. a half of the main supporting surface on an aircraft, confined to one side of it
  2. the full span of the main supporting surface on both sides of an aircraft
  3. an aircraft designed as one complete wing
  4. a position in flight formation, just to the rear and to one side of an aircraft
  1. an organ or apparatus resembling a wing
  2. anatomyany bodily structure resembling a wingthe wings of a sphenoid bone Technical name: ala
anything suggesting a wing in form, function, or position, such as a sail of a windmill or a ship
  1. either of the lateral petals of a sweetpea or related flower
  2. any of various outgrowths of a plant part, esp the process on a wind-dispersed fruit or seed
a means or cause of flight or rapid motion; flightfear gave wings to his feet
the act or manner of flyinga bird of strong wing
British the part of a car body that surrounds the wheelsUS and Canadian name: fender
any affiliate of or subsidiary to a parent organization
  1. either of the two sides of the pitch near the touchline
  2. a player stationed in such a position; winger
a faction or group within a political party or other organizationSee also left wing, right wing
a part of a building that is subordinate to the main part
(plural) the space offstage to the right or left of the acting area in a theatre
in the wings ready to step in when needed
fortifications a side connecting the main fort and an outwork
a folding panel, as of a double door or a movable partition
either of the two pieces that project forwards from the sides of some chairbacks
the US name for quarterlight
a surface fitted to a racing car to produce aerodynamic download to hold it on the road at high speed
(plural) an insignia in the form of stylized wings worn by a qualified aircraft pilot
a tactical formation in some air forces, consisting of two or more squadrons
any of various flattened organs or extensions in lower animals, esp when used in locomotion
the side of a hold alongside a ship's hull
the outside angle of the cutting edge on the share and mouldboard of a plough
a jetty or dam for narrowing a channel of water
on a wing and a prayer with only the slightest hope of succeeding
on the wing
  1. flying
  2. travelling
  3. about to leave
take wing
  1. to lift off or fly away
  2. to depart in haste
  3. to become joyful
under one's wing in one's care or tutelage
clip someone's wings
  1. to restrict someone's freedom
  2. to thwart someone's ambition
on wings flying or as if flying
spread one's wings or stretch one's wings to make full use of one's abilities

verb (mainly tr)

(also intr) to make (one's way) swiftly on or as if on wings
to shoot or wound (a bird, person, etc) superficially, in the wing or arm, etc
to cause to fly or move swiftlyto wing an arrow
to fit (an arrow) with a feather
to provide with wings
(of buildings, altars, etc) to provide with lateral extensions
wing it informal to accomplish or perform something without full preparation or knowledge; improvise
Derived Formswinglike, adjective

Word Origin for wing

C12: from Scandinavian; compare Old Norse vǣngir (plural), Norwegian veng
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 wings



late 12c., wenge, from Old Norse vængr "wing of a bird, aisle, etc." (cf. Danish and Swedish vinge "wing"), of unknown origin, perhaps from a Proto-Germanic *we-ingjaz and ultimately from PIE root *we- "blow" (cf. Old English wawan "to blow;" see wind (n.)). Replaced Old English feðra (plural) "wings" (see feather). The meaning "either of two divisions of a political party, army, etc." is first recorded c.1400; theatrical sense is from 1790.

Verbal phrase wing it (1885) is from theatrical slang sense of an actor learning his lines in the wings before going onstage, or else not learning them at all and being fed by a prompter in the wings. The verb to wing "shoot a bird in the wing" is from 1802. The slang sense of to earn (one's) wings is 1940s, from the wing-shaped badges awarded to air cadets on graduation. To be under (someone's) wing "protected by (someone)" is recorded from early 13c. Phrase on a wing and a prayer is title of a 1943 song about landing a damaged aircraft.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wings in Medicine




Any of various paired movable organs of flight, such as the modified forelimb of a bird or bat or one of the membranous organs extending from the thorax of an insect.
Something that resembles a wing in appearance, function, or position relative to a main body.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

wings in Science



One of a pair of specialized parts used for flying, as in birds, bats, or insects.
A thin, papery projection on certain fruits that are dispersed by the wind, such as the fruits of ash, elm, and maple trees. See also samara.
A part extending from the side of an aircraft, such as an airplane, having a curved upper surface that causes the pressure of air rushing over it to decrease, thereby providing lift.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wings


In addition to the idiom beginning with wing

  • wing it

also see:

  • clip someone's wings
  • in the wings
  • left wing
  • on the wing
  • take flight (wing)
  • under someone's wing
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.