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

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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

Ford should put a feather in its cap knowing the only pickups to better the Ranger in our highway fuel-economy test have been either diesel-powered or unibody construction. K.c. Colwell, Car and Driver, "What Kind of Fuel Economy Does the 2019 Ford Ranger Get in the Real World?," 13 May 2019 Having worn a bright orange Versace gown, which was covered in feathers, on the red carpet earlier in the night, Kendall decided to tone it down with her second look. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian's Met Gala Afterparty Looks Were Skintight and See-Through," 7 May 2019 Team Jenner walked the red carpet together, wearing coordinating mermaid gowns covered in feathers and beadwork – the unofficial, official uniform of this year's Met Gala. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Kendall and Kylie Jenner Wear Matching Feather Dresses on the 2019 Met Gala Red Carpet," 7 May 2019 Still, in recent seasons feathers—both real and faux—have reentered the zeitgeist, the marabou look coming back on the trim of a trouser here (Miu Miu), on the sleeve of a blazer there (Rachel Comey), or in the most OTT of cases, all over. Glamour, "If You Want a Big Style Moment in 2019, Bring On the Feathers," 10 Apr. 2019 While her midsection was covered in black feathers, the bottom portion of her look revealed two thigh-high slits. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Keri Russell Wore the Sexiest Feathered Black Dress on the Emmys Red Carpet," 18 Sep. 2018 Andrade uploaded a photo to Facebook on April 29 showing her filling in green headdress feathers with spray paint. Alex Horton, Washington Post, "A school’s mural depicts Trump’s severed head on a spear," 5 May 2018 The feathers fluttered down the catwalk and, in a second, stole the spotlight from the rest of the outfit. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "7 Shoe Trends of 2019 You're Going to Want to Pay Attention To," 7 Jan. 2019 Aristotle described the regeneration cycle of the birds’ feathers as concurrent with the change in seasons. Nic Rowan, WSJ, "The Spiritual Life of the Peacock," 20 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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.

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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

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Statistics for feather

Last Updated

17 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for feather

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

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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

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Comments on feather

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