feather

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

Definition of feather

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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

feather

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

Definition of feather (Entry 2 of 3)

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

Feather

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

Definition of Feather (Entry 3 of 3)

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

Illustration of feather

Illustration of feather

Noun

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

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from feather

Noun

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

One body-hugging number was light as a feather and luxuriously trimmed with gold lace at the bust. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "La Perla Releases Its First Bridal Collection—and It’s Very Hot," 12 Apr. 2019 My eyelids were heavy, but my body felt light as a feather. Sarah Gad, Marie Claire, "My Drug Overdose Saved My Life. Now I'm Saving Others.," 15 Mar. 2019 On the second day of the fair, 26-year-old Choaro Motshoeneng wore a brown fedora with a feather tucked in its band. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Inside the Bizarre Life of a Male Street-Style Star," 14 Jan. 2019 Sporting a fright wig, a feather boa, and a baggy dress (designed to obscure her svelte figure), Diller was unabashedly outlandish. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 16 Dec. 2018 In some races, getting the party’s endorsement at the convention is a nice feather in the cap and a show of organizational force. James Pindell, BostonGlobe.com, "When Democratic candidates for governor debate, they may take their gloves off," 16 May 2018 Wild Turkey Gray Leech: A model of simplicity, this pattern, created by Tom Wendelberg of Madison, is tied from a single wild turkey feather. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: 13 famous Wisconsin fly patterns take center stage," 21 Apr. 2018 Teachers from Deer Park ISD will man the crafts station where children can try writing with a feather dipped in ink, make bolo neckties, finger-paint bluebonnets and create bobcat face masks. Allison Bagley, Houston Chronicle, "Recreating Texas history - with camels - for the Battle of San Jacinto," 11 Apr. 2018 His face is 22 feet tall, and his head is topped with a massive 15-foot cedar feather, adding a touch of dignity and whimsy. Mary Forgione, latimes.com, "Yeah, there's a giant bunny in that vineyard — no foolin' — and 9 animals, vegetables and antlers you'll want to stop and see," 1 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The biggest trends for the season were as eye-catching as ever, and lend themselves to several events: a bridal blazer for the rehearsal dinner, a dramatic slit or sleeve for the ceremony, a short feathered dress for the reception. Glamour, "The 9 Best Wedding Dress Trends From Spring 2020 Bridal Fashion Week," 16 Apr. 2019 Her look perfectly matched the models that walked among her, who were all clad in white and neutral-toned lingerie and feathered wings. Avery Matera, Teen Vogue, "Halsey Wore Her Bra and Underwear as an Outfit on the Red Carpet," 9 Nov. 2018 Skipping out on the 16-year-old model's massively voluminous runway hair, Gaga instead brought the pink feathered look to the red carpet with a sleek updo. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Lady Gaga Just Shut Down the Venice Film Festival in Valentino Couture," 31 Aug. 2018 Start by lightly patting on a sheer concealer around your mouth, which helps your color stay put, preventing it from feathering. Harper's BAZAAR, "Dare to Wear Color This Season," 5 May 2017 Do this once more just before rolling; this will keep the edges of your dough from feathering. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Be Ambitious This Thanksgiving: 3 Bold Recipes From One of L.A.’s Most Talked About Restaurants," 2 Nov. 2018 The British army physically abused its soldiers; colonists tarred and feathered those thought sympathetic to the crown; public executions were grisly social occasions; slave markets, with their normalized brutality, still existed. Gerald J. Russello, WSJ, "‘Founding Martyr’ Review: The Hero on Bunker Hill," 30 Sep. 2018 Chopra opted to wear a white, feathered Marchesa gown for the occasion. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are Married—Here's Everything We Know About the Wedding," 4 Dec. 2018 Our youngest daughter, Stoli, and her fiancé are feathering their nest in the cottage across the yard and expecting their first child. Heather Lende, Woman's Day, "Living with Grown Children," 25 Jan. 2012

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.

See More

First Known Use of feather

Noun

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

Verb

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

History and Etymology for feather

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about feather

Statistics for feather

Last Updated

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for feather

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for feather

feather

noun

English Language Learners Definition of feather

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

feather

verb

English Language Learners Definition of feather (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put a feather in or on (something)

feather

noun
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

feather

verb
feathered; feathering

Kids Definition of feather (Entry 2 of 2)

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

feather

noun
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 feathered (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on feather

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

WORD OF THE DAY

having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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