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

The towels work as replacement feathers, and the bacon keeps the paper from sticking to the bird. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, "Sandhill cranes make their annual short and noisy Interior Alaska stopover," 7 May 2018 As every schoolchild now knows, birds are dinosaurs, linked to their extinct relatives by feathers and anatomy. Gretchen Vogel, Science | AAAS, "Fossils reveal how ancient birds got their beaks," 2 May 2018 The artists step up their game to create some incredible hair styles, incorporating everything from flowers to feathers into their looks. Erika Trombley, Seventeen, "This "Descendants 3" and "American Beauty Star" Crossover Episode Is To Die For," 20 Feb. 2019 For her grand return, Christy hit the runway in a black feather cocktail dress with a matching fascinator and black leather boots. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Christy Turlington Just Walked the Runway For The First Time Since the '90s," 14 Feb. 2019 The structure change followed a feather-ruffling performance by the unapologetic Michelle Wolf. Emily Bloch, Teen Vogue, "Skip Trump's Prime-Time Immigration Address With 7 These Other Things You Can Watch Instead," 8 Jan. 2019 But Jordan and Meadows, and the Freedom Caucus more broadly, have ruffled many feathers along the way. Tara Golshan, Vox, "How a small, Trumpy group of House Republicans wants to keep a check on Democrats," 29 Nov. 2018 His beguiling, feather-light fantasy follows Michelangelo’s reluctant immersion into the wonders of the city, a far more sensuous place than the ascetic artist has known in Italy. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Critical Mass of Absurdist Misapprehensions," 30 Nov. 2018 Try a feather-light grey in bedrooms, or even a meditation space for a tranquil, calming effect. Alexis Jonnson, Good Housekeeping, "The Prettiest Colors Popping Up in Homes This Year," 19 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Gothic drama ensued from Rosalie Craig in Christopher Kane’s feathered sheath, and Coleman’s crested black-lace and tulle dress beguiled the room. Vogue, "Claire Foy, Idris Elba, Anna Wintour, Sophie Okonedo, Ralph Fiennes, and the Cast of Hamilton Fete the 64th Evening Standard Theatre Awards," 19 Nov. 2018 Now, an array of sparkling minis and feathered frocks suggested the new Celine woman is more interested in dressing for the party scene than for the office. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Hedi Slimane’s Celine Is Here and It Looks Completely Different," 28 Sep. 2018 For it, Gaga still rocks her peroxide-blonde hair and dark, feathered brows. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Lady Gaga's Minimalist Look for Vogue's October Cover Was Done With Just $50 of Drugstore Makeup," 10 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

22 Mar 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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