feather

1 of 2

noun

feath·​er ˈfe-t͟hər How to pronounce feather (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
b
: kind, nature
birds of a feather flock together
c
d
: condition, mood
woke up in fine feather
e
feathers plural : composure
some feathers had been ruffledD. J. Blum
3
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
featherless adjective

Illustration of feather

Illustration of feather
  • A-1 quill
  • A-2 vane; B-1 barb
  • B-2 barbule
  • B-3 barbicel with hamulus

feather

2 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: to furnish (something, such as an arrow) with a feather
b
: to cover, clothe, or adorn with or as if with feathers
2
a
: 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
4
a
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
Phrases
a feather in one's cap
: a mark of distinction : honor
feather one's nest
: to provide for oneself especially financially by unethically exploiting a position of trust

Examples of feather in a Sentence

Noun they are a very sports-minded couple, 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
Related After taking the Crypto.com Arena stage on Sunday night (Feb. 4) with his daughter Blue Ivy to defend Beyoncé with a candid acceptance speech that is sure to ruffle the feathers of the Recording Academy, Jay turned his gramophone into an expensive cup. Michael Saponara, Billboard, 5 Feb. 2024 Harvey Hugs, 60, of Hardin, Mont., who was previously convicted of trafficking golden eagle feathers, wings and tails in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for related gun violations. Democrat-Gazette Staff From Wire Reports, arkansasonline.com, 31 Jan. 2024 The first feathers that dinosaurs evolved appeared as mere hair-like bristles, reports the New York Times’ Asher Elbein. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 Jan. 2024 Down is a filling made of feathers and is fluffy and warm while still being lightweight. Andrea Wurzburger, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 Jan. 2024 The souffle-like baked Japanese cheesecakes are tall, fluffy, jiggly, light as a feather and not very sweet. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 26 Jan. 2024 Others stopped dead in their tracks and had to be coaxed along by herders in matching plaid shirts and leather cowboy hats, adorned with wildflowers and feathers. George Steinmetz Catherine Porter, New York Times, 21 Jan. 2024 The nine-time Emmy nominee styled the gown with a few diamond rings and a pair of drop diamond earrings, and wore her hair slicked back into an elegant chignon, with a few feathers to match the feathers of her dress. Kathleen Walsh, Glamour, 16 Jan. 2024 In 1922, Finch was the laughingstock of his mountaineering circle, showing up to climbs wearing strange pillowy garb made of feathers and hot air balloon fabric while his friends continued to dress in tweed. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 7 Jan. 2024
Verb
But feathering the edges and rounding over corners helps ensure that the new paint is uniformly thick, thus resistant to cracking. Jeanne Huber, Washington Post, 12 Jan. 2024 All this is to say that the adoration of animals — furry, feathered, or otherwise — is a part of our history, tracing back thousands and thousands of years. Sam Walters, Discover Magazine, 11 Jan. 2024 The Golden Globes red carpet has also been the scene of many a fashion moment over the years, from Julia Roberts’s pinstriped skirt suit in 1991, to Nicole Kidman’s peacock feathered Gucci dress in 2005, and Natalie Portman’s rose embellished Viktor & Rolf in 2011. Vogue, 7 Jan. 2024 For the Latin Grammy Awards in Seville, Spain, the pop star opted to turn heads with the help of brows on a new generation of fleek, each feathered and segmented to artful effect. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, 17 Nov. 2023 None of us were tarred and feathered for simply asking the question. Lacey Rose, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Nov. 2023 Fossils of complete skeletons, bird parts preserved in amber and new techniques to compare the extinct birds with their living counterparts are allowing researchers to flesh out how these feathered, flying, toothy dinosaurs spread throughout the ancient world. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Oct. 2023 From the outset indicating the centrality of composer Eiko Ishibashi’s score, we are drawn into the film with a long musical excerpt, only accompanied by fluid tracking shot, looking upward: a tracery of tree branches, feathered out against a winter sky. Jessica Kiang, Variety, 4 Sep. 2023 Swiping on a bold red lipstick, packing on a light-reflecting eye shadow, and feathering through unruly brows — makeup is full of moments of instant gratification. Michelle Rostamian, Allure, 18 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'feather.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near feather

Cite this Entry

“Feather.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feather. Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

feather

1 of 2 noun
feath·​er ˈfet͟h-ər How to pronounce feather (audio)
1
: one of the light horny growths that make up the outer covering of the body of a bird
2
a
: kind entry 1 sense 1, nature
birds of a feather
b
: clothing sense 1, dress
in full feather
c
: condition entry 1 sense 5b, mood
in fine feather
feathered adjective
featherless
-ər-ləs
adjective
feathery
-(ə-)rē
adjective

feather

2 of 2 verb
feathered; feathering ˈfet͟h-(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce feather (audio)
1
a
: to provide (as an arrow) with a feather
b
: to cover, clothe, or adorn with feathers
2
a
: to turn (an oar blade) parallel to the water when lifting from the water at the end of a stroke
b
: to change the angle of (airplane propeller blades) to reduce air resistance
also : to change the angle of airplane propeller blades of (an engine) in such a manner
3
: to grow feathers
4
: to move, spread, or grow like feathers

Medical Definition

feather

noun
feath·​er ˈfet͟h-ər How to pronounce feather (audio)
: 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
feathered adjective

Geographical Definition

Feather

geographical name

Feath·​er ˈfe-t͟hər How to pronounce Feather (audio)
river 100 miles (161 kilometers) long in north central California flowing south into the Sacramento River

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