down to the wire, to the very last moment or the very end, as in a race or competition: The candidates campaigned down to the wire.
    pull wires, Informal. to use one's position or influence to obtain a desired result: to pull wires to get someone a job.
    under the wire, just within the limit or deadline; scarcely; barely: to get an application in under the wire.

Origin of wire

before 900; Middle English wir(e) (noun), Old English wīr; cognate with Low German wīr, Old Norse vīra- wire, Old High German wiara fine goldwork
Related formswir·a·ble, adjectivewire·like, adjectivede·wire, verb (used with object), de·wired, de·wir·ing.mis·wire, verb, mis·wired, mis·wir·ing.pre·wire, verb (used with object), pre·wired, pre·wir·ing.un·wir·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedwhy're wire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for wire

coil, line, strand, thread, cable, telegram, message, telegraph

Examples from the Web for wire

Contemporary Examples of wire

Historical Examples of wire

  • The framework is of bamboo, strengthened and held taut with wire guys.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • You are no Frenchman, to spit flesh with a wire; but you can shoot, can't you?

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • It was tried on a wire laid across the Rhine between Deutz and Cologne.

  • Nor was it essential the wire should be straight; it might be bent into angles.

  • The electricity had taken a certain time to travel from the ends of the wire to the middle.

British Dictionary definitions for wire



a slender flexible strand or rod of metal
a cable consisting of several metal strands twisted together
a flexible metallic conductor, esp one made of copper, usually insulated, and used to carry electric current in a circuit
(modifier) of, relating to, or made of wirea wire fence; a wire stripper
anything made of wire, such as wire netting, a barbed wire fence, etc
a long continuous wire or cable connecting points in a telephone or telegraph system
  1. an informal name for telegram, telegraph
  2. the wire an informal name for telephone
a metallic string on a guitar, piano, etc
horse racing, mainly US and Canadian the finishing line on a racecourse
a wire-gauze screen upon which pulp is spread to form paper during the manufacturing process
anything resembling a wire, such as a hair
a snare made of wire for rabbits and similar animals
to the wire or down to the wire informal right up to the last moment
get in under the wire informal, mainly US and Canadian to accomplish something with little time to spare
get one's wires crossed informal to misunderstand
pull wires mainly US and Canadian to exert influence behind the scenes, esp through personal connections; pull strings
take it to the wire to compete to the bitter end to win a competition or title

verb (mainly tr)

(also intr) to send a telegram to (a person or place)
to send (news, a message, etc) by telegraph
to equip (an electrical system, circuit, or component) with wires
to fasten or furnish with wire
(often foll by up) to provide (an area) with fibre optic cabling to receive cable television
to string (beads, etc) on wire
croquet to leave (a player's ball) so that a hoop or peg lies between it and the other balls
to snare with wire
wire in informal to set about (something, esp food) with enthusiasm
Derived Formswirelike, adjective

Word Origin for wire

Old English wīr; related to Old High German wiara, Old Norse vīra, Latin viriae bracelet
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 wire

Old English wir "metal drawn out into a thread," from Proto-Germanic *wiraz (cf. Old Norse viravirka "filigree work," Swedish vira "to twist," Old High German wiara "fine gold work"), from PIE *wei- "to turn, twist, plait" (cf. Old Irish fiar, Welsh gwyr "bent, crooked;" Latin viere "to bend, twist," viriæ "bracelets," of Celtic origin). Wiretapping is recorded from 1904, from earlier wiretapper (1893). Wirepuller in the political sense is 1848, American English.


"to furnish with wires," mid-15c., from wire (n.). Related: Wired; wiring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wire


see down to the wire; get one's wires crossed; live wire; pull strings (wires); under the wire.

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