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 Black Indian wearing a dirty purple suit, posing on the edge of my block for photographs with a Home Depot tip bucket hidden behind his feathers, feels like a transgression. Sarah M. Broom, The New Yorker, "Who Stays Gone, and Who Can Afford to Return," 12 Aug. 2019 Shake your tail feather at Flamingle After Dark, the Denver Zoo’s new adults-only, after-hours party with a special focus on the flamboyant pink birds. Kaitlyn Bancroft, The Know, "Single and ready to Flamingle? Come party at the Denver Zoo’s new adults-only event," 7 Aug. 2019 But Guerra learned Thursday the case had been dropped — ending an ordeal that ruffled his feathers. Stephen Hudak, orlandosentinel.com, "Apopka man squawks about code violation for chickens: ‘They’re not mine’," 25 July 2019 One of the most successful efforts mounted by Grinnell and his fellow toffs was stopping the widespread slaughter of birds so that their feathers could adorn women’s hats. Dennis Drabelle, chicagotribune.com, "Grinnell: The adventurer who helped preserve wild lands and Native American history," 23 July 2019 Sebastian Velasquez, the youth category winner, zoomed in on a single horned puffin preening its feathers at the Alaska Sea Life Center. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Audubon Photography Award Winners Show the Breathtaking Beauty of Wild Birds," 16 July 2019 Their feathers can be damaged by a surface foam created by the algae. Tom Metcalfe, NBC News, "What is red tide?," 13 July 2019 You might be more easily upset by little things that usually don't ruffle your feathers. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for July 9, 2019: Happy birthday Pamela Adlon; Cancer, own what happened and take steps to fix it," 9 July 2019 With her feathers and flowing gold cape, Beyoncé radiated power and gave onlookers a lion queen moment alongside daughter Blue Ivy who was in an adorable yellow gown with matching headdress. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Beyoncé Was the Lion Queen at the Wearable Art Gala," 2 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Then there’s Saint Laurent, where a battalion of black-and-white pieces were interspersed with gabardine mini-dresses and feathered tube dresses in fluorescent tangerine. Adam Tschorn, Los Angeles Times, "Bold and bright and available now: shopping the fall and winter 2019 women’s trends," 6 Sep. 2019 Its luxuriantly feathered limbs drape over the entire scene, creating the sort of a truly eye-catching and unexpected effect that can only happen by accident. Bonnie Blodgett, Twin Cities, "Blundering Gardener: The things you think of — and cry about — when gardening," 13 July 2019 One of the lab’s standout projects is a mechanical bird called PigeonBot, which has feathered wings crafted by Laura Matloff and a radio control system run by fellow grad student Eric Chang. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "Why Leonardo da Vinci’s brilliance endures, 500 years after his death," 12 June 2019 In October of that year, Catholic priest John Bapst was assaulted, robbed, tarred and feathered, and driven out of Ellsworth, Maine. David Vernette, Smithsonian, "When an Influx of French-Canadian Immigrants Struck Fear Into Americans," 21 Aug. 2019 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 See: the fluffy trim on Zuhair Murad’s off-the-shoulder gown and Naeem Khan’s feathered micro-mini. Emily Farra, Vogue, "The 8 Major Trends of the Spring 2020 Bridal Season," 17 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 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

18 Oct 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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