Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun, often attributive \ˈhwēl, ˈwēl\

Simple Definition of wheel

  • : one of the round parts underneath a car, wagon, etc., that rolls and allows something to move

  • : a hard, round object that turns and causes machinery or a mechanical device to move

  • : something that is round like a wheel or that turns like a wheel

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wheel

  1. 1 :  a circular frame of hard material that may be solid, partly solid, or spoked and that is capable of turning on an axle

  2. 2 :  a contrivance or apparatus having as its principal part a wheel: as a :  a chiefly medieval instrument of torture designed for mutilating a victim (as by stretching or disjointing) b :  bicycle c :  any of many revolving disks or drums used as gambling paraphernalia d :  potter's wheel e :  steering wheel

  3. 3 a :  an imaginary turning wheel symbolizing the inconstancy of fortune b :  a recurring course, development, or action :  cycle

  4. 4 :  something (as a round flat cheese) resembling a wheel in shape

  5. 5 a :  a curving or circular movement b :  a rotation or turn usually about an axis or center; specifically :  a turning movement of troops or ships in line in which the units preserve alignment and relative positions as they change direction

  6. 6 a :  a moving or essential part of something compared to a machine <the wheels of government> b :  a directing or controlling force c :  a person of importance especially in an organization <a big wheel>

  7. 7 :  the refrain or burden of a song

  8. 8 a :  a circuit of theaters or places of entertainment b :  a sports league

  9. 9 plural slang :  a wheeled vehicle; especially :  automobile

  10. 10 plural slang :  legs


play \ˈhwēl-ləs, ˈwēl-\ adjective

Examples of wheel in a sentence

  1. The car's rear wheels started to spin on the icy road.

  2. the wheels of a train

  3. a suitcase with wheels on the bottom

  4. a wheel of cheddar cheese

Illustration of wheel

Origin and Etymology of wheel

Middle English, from Old English hweogol, hwēol; akin to Old Norse hvēl wheel, Greek kyklos circle, wheel, Sanskrit cakra, Latin colere to cultivate, inhabit, Sanskrit carati he moves, wanders

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Mechanical Engineering Terms




Simple Definition of wheel

  • : to move (someone or something) on a vehicle that has wheels

  • : to push (something) that has wheels on it

  • : to turn quickly and face a different direction

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wheel

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to turn on or as if on an axis :  revolve

  3. 2 :  to change direction as if revolving on a pivot <the battalion would have wheeled to the flank — Walter Bernstein> <her mind will wheel around to the other extreme — Liam O'Flaherty> <wheeled to face her opponent>

  4. 3 :  to move or extend in a circle or curve <birds in wheeling flight> <valleys where young cotton wheeled slowly in fanlike rows — William Faulkner>

  5. 4 :  to travel on or as if on wheels or in a wheeled vehicle

  6. transitive verb
  7. 1 :  to cause to turn on or as if on an axis :  rotate

  8. 2 :  to convey or move on or as if on wheels or in a wheeled vehicle <wheeled the patient back to his room> <wheeled the car into the driveway> <wheel in the experts>

  9. 3 :  to cause to change direction as if revolving on a pivot

  10. 4 :  to make or perform in a circle or curve

wheel and deal

  1. :  to make deals or do business especially shrewdly or briskly

Examples of wheel in a sentence

  1. Doctors wheeled the patient into the operating room.

  2. He wheeled his motorcycle into the garage.

  3. Our waiter wheeled out a small dessert cart.

  4. She wheeled around in her chair when I entered the room.

13th Century

First Known Use of wheel

13th century

WHEEL Defined for Kids



noun \ˈhwēl, ˈwēl\

Definition of wheel for Students

  1. 1 :  a disk or circular frame that can turn on a central point

  2. 2 :  something that is round <a wheel of cheese>

  3. 3 :  steering wheel <His hands tightly gripped the wheel.>

  4. 4 :  something having a wheel as its main part <a spinning wheel>

  5. 5 wheels plural :  moving power :  necessary parts <the wheels of government>


\ˈhwēld, wēld\ adjective




Definition of wheel for Students



  1. 1 :  to carry or move on wheels or in a vehicle with wheels

  2. 2 :  rotate 1 <Seagulls wheeled above the boat.>

  3. 3 :  to change direction as if turning on a central point <I wheeled and faced them.>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up wheel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


of or relating to the heavens

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which is a synonym of asperse?

defame placate beat divulge
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.