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

On Sunday, tribe members wore traditional clothing throughout the ceremony, made up of rabbit skins, necklaces adorned with beads and shells, charcoal-black feathers and yellow garments covered by grass skirting. James Faris, latimes.com, "Stough Canyon event celebrates Native American heritage," 2 July 2019 For ten years his admirer had been labouring to emulate his astonishingly meticulous chains and cascades of foliage, fruit, flowers, feathers and shells in the same white lime or linden wood. The Economist, "Obituary: David Esterly died on June 15th," 28 June 2019 According to the study, the bird may have also been a source of meat, bones, feathers and eggshells for early humans. USA TODAY, "Big birds: Giant, 1,000-pound birds once roamed around Europe," 26 June 2019 Among the pieces: the Banjooli table, with bright yellow polyethylene cords woven to evoke overlapping feathers and inspired by the courtship dance of the ostrich. Washington Post, "RIGHT AT HOME: Outdoor decor that’s ‘out there’ and edgy," 19 June 2019 All the fun, feathers and furry friends at the Hamilton County Fair with the Touch of Grass band, at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds on Sunday, July 22, 2018. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "County fair guide: Here's when fairs in Central Indiana get underway," 18 June 2019 The Northern Illinois Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center, along with local raptor trainers, will be on hand with live hawks, falcons and owls, a collection of bird bones, feathers and hunting gear. Michelle Mullins, Elgin Courier-News, "Elgin News Digest," 7 June 2019 Further up the trail, a giant prehistoric bird with black fiberglass feathers and a red beak stood tall in the grasses. John Carlisle, Freep.com, "LAND OF THE LOST Irish Hills tourist stop owner aims to restore dinosaur park," 6 June 2019 Reach for sequins and feathers and fringe; all that glitters is indeed gold in this case. Divya Bala, Harper's BAZAAR, "5 Outfit Ideas to Slay Every Holiday Party," 30 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Sanderses now share their east-side home with Tembo and a small herd of furry and feathered creatures: two birds, four chickens, another cat, Honeybun, and dogs Charmin and Cottonelle. Holly V. Hays, Indianapolis Star, "A 20-pound cat with a squeaky purr helped a veteran fight off his darkest memories," 25 June 2019 Continue to feather upwards into irregular lines to give the appearances of cracks in the skull. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "This Skeleton Face Paint Tutorial Is Actually Easier Than You Think," 18 June 2019 The first glacier that came into view was the Tokositna, a dramatic ribbon of ice feathered with crevasses and streaked with dark silt. Anchorage Daily News, "Taking the plunge: Glacier skiing and climbing in the shadow of the Moose’s Tooth," 10 June 2019 The 36-year-old star of the ABC series Quantico wore an ivory silk Marchesa gown with a bustier bodice and feathered skirt to the all-girls fete hosted by bridesmaids Anjula Acharia and Mubina Rattonsey. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "A Look Inside Priyanka Chopra’s Bridal Shower at Tiffany’s Blue Box Cafe," 29 Oct. 2018 Some even wore full-blown flowered and feathered church hats, and a handful of little girls in pastel dresses danced in place, counting the minutes for tea service to begin. Beth Spotswood, San Francisco Chronicle, "SF’s Crown and Crumpet’s high tea just the thing for royal wedding," 22 May 2018 For Harry and Meghan's wedding, Anne wore a slightly more fanciful brocade dress and feathered fascinator. Elizabeth Angell, Town & Country, "Princess Anne Just Wore One of Her Favorite Ensembles to Ella Windsor's Wedding," 18 May 2019 Her turquoise and cherry-red sets have become a nice alternative for wedding guests who hate cocktail dresses, but Abbasi has found that her best-selling pieces are actually an ivory feathered jacket and matching trousers. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Wedding Gowns Aren’t the Main Story for This Brand-New Bridal Designer," 10 Apr. 2019 The 2019 solution has revealed itself—wear something feathered. Glamour, "If You Want a Big Style Moment in 2019, Bring On the Feathers," 10 Apr. 2019

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

12 Jul 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

characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!