feath·​er | \ ˈfe-t͟hər How to pronounce feather (audio) \

Definition of feather

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : any of the light, horny, epidermal outgrowths that form the external covering of the body of birds

Note: Feathers include the smaller down feathers and the larger contour and flight feathers. Larger feathers consist of a shaft (rachis) bearing branches (barbs) which bear smaller branches (barbules). These smaller branches bear tiny hook-bearing processes (barbicels) which interlock with the barbules of an adjacent barb to link the barbs into a continuous stiff vane. Down feathers lack barbules, resulting in fluffy feathers which provide insulation below the contour feathers.

b archaic : plume sense 2a
c : the vane of an arrow
2a : plumage
b : kind, nature birds of a feather flock together
c : attire, dress
d : condition, mood woke up in fine feather
e feathers plural : composure some feathers had been ruffled— D. J. Blum
4 : a projecting strip, rib, fin, or flange
5 : a feathery flaw in the eye or in a precious stone
6 : the act of feathering an oar
a feather in one's cap
: a mark of distinction : honor


feathered; feathering\ ˈfet͟h-​riŋ How to pronounce feather (audio) , ˈfe-​t͟hə-​ \

Definition of feather (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to furnish (something, such as an arrow) with a feather
b : to cover, clothe, or adorn with or as if with feathers
2a : to turn (an oar blade) almost horizontal when lifting from the water at the end of a stroke to reduce air resistance
b(1) : to change the angle of (airplane propeller blades) so that the chords become approximately parallel to the line of flight also : to change the angle of airplane propeller blades of (an engine) in such a manner
(2) : to change the angle of (a rotor blade of a rotorcraft) periodically in forward flight
3 : to reduce the edge of to a featheredge
4a of a bird : to cut (the air) with a wing
b of a fish : to cut (the water) with a fin
5 : to join by a tongue and groove
6 : to hit, throw, pass, or shoot softly and usually with precision feathered a perfect lob over the net

intransitive verb

1 : to grow or form feathers
2 : to have or take on the appearance of a feather or something feathered
3 : to soak in and spread : blur used of ink or a printed impression
4 : to feather an oar or an airplane propeller blade
feather one's nest
: to provide for oneself especially financially by unethically exploiting a position of trust

Illustration of feather

Illustration of feather


feather 1a: A: 1 quill, 2 vane; B: 1 barb, 2 barbule, 3 barbicel with hamulus

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from feather


featherless adjective

Examples of feather in a Sentence

Noun the two brothers are sports-obsessed jocks, and most of their friends are of the same feather prom couples strutted into the ballroom in full feather
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Subpoena defiance and the insurrection are birds of a feather. Norman Eisen And Dennis Aftergut, CNN, 22 July 2022 But the Saul of Better Call Saul is a bird of a different feather, and herein lies my problem. Erik Kain, Forbes, 7 July 2022 This phenomenon, dubbed by economists as rockets and feathers, follows a pattern in which increases in crude prices send pump prices quickly upward, like a rocket, but when crude prices fall, pump prices tend to descend slower, like a feather. Hamza Shaban, Washington Post, 31 May 2022 When oil falls, gasoline prices tend to drift down, like a feather. Hamza Shaban, BostonGlobe.com, 31 May 2022 Pete Davidson and Jack Harlow are birds of a feather. Lars Brandle, Billboard, 24 May 2022 The ancient Egyptians used to weigh the heart of the dead man against the weight of a feather. Dan Snierson, EW.com, 26 Apr. 2022 But iridescent feathers only create colors when light impinges upon the feather at a certain angle. Grrlscientist, Forbes, 26 June 2022 As Smarch’s telling goes, the raven quickly gets caught up in the feather, failing to make his way to the nobleman’s daughter. Sarah Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, 4 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Duvet inserts made from white down and feather (goose and duck), like this Classic Down Duvet Insert ($183, Pottery Barn), tend to be most popular. Shivani Vyas, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 July 2022 The lipstick doesn’t feather or dry out lips, Lab evaluators found. April Franzino, Good Housekeeping, 26 Apr. 2022 Musicians are getting exploited to feather wealthy podcasters’ nests. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 12 Feb. 2022 Up close, the silks are graceful and delicate, the knits are feather soft. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2021 Gowns with flamboyant shoulders yet feather detailing at the bottom, to shimmery gowns in golds, greens, and creams filled the collection. Allyson Portee, Forbes, 28 Oct. 2021 Tang recommends going only one or two levels lighter than your base color to keep things modern, and asking your stylist to feather your highlights for a seamless transition. Janae Mckenzie, Glamour, 31 Aug. 2021 On August 1, Gaga sashayed out of her hotel lobby in a Valentino Haute Couture look that featured a vibrant purple cape dress with a matching lilac feather headdress by Philip Treacy and pair of pale yellow gloves, according to stylist Tom Eerebout. Jacorey Moon, PEOPLE.com, 3 Aug. 2021 The blades slowed enough to allow Garrett to feather the no. 1. Eric Lindner, Popular Mechanics, 22 July 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'feather.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of feather


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for feather


Middle English fether, from Old English; akin to Old High German federa wing, Latin petere to go to, seek, Greek petesthai to fly, piptein to fall, pteron wing

Learn More About feather

Time Traveler for feather

Time Traveler

The first known use of feather was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near feather




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for feather

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Feather.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feather. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for feather


feath·​er | \ ˈfe-t͟hər How to pronounce feather (audio) \

Kids Definition of feather

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one of the light horny growths that make up the outer covering of a bird

Other Words from feather

feathered \ -​t͟hərd \ adjective


feathered; feathering

Kids Definition of feather (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to provide or decorate with feathers
2 : to grow or form feathers


feath·​er | \ ˈfet͟h-ər How to pronounce feather (audio) \

Medical Definition of feather

: one of the light horny epidermal outgrowths that form the external covering of the body of birds and that consist of a shaft bearing on each side a series of barbs which bear barbules which in turn bear barbicels commonly ending in the hooked processes and interlocking with the barbules of an adjacent barb to link the barbs into a continuous vane

Other Words from feather

feathered \ -​ərd How to pronounce feather (audio) \ adjective

Feather geographical name

Feath·​er | \ ˈfe-t͟hər How to pronounce Feather (audio) \

Definition of Feather

river 100 miles (161 kilometers) long in north central California flowing south into the Sacramento River

More from Merriam-Webster on feather

Nglish: Translation of feather for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feather for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about feather


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!