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 mom rocked a form-fitting black dress that featured a plunging neckline with a sheer, diagonal cut bottom embellished with black feathers. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "New Mom Troian Bellisario Hits the Red Carpet 10 Months After Birth of Baby Girl," 13 Aug. 2019 The lovers cross the Milky Way on this quivering bridge of feathers and reunite for a kiss. Vanessa Hua, SFChronicle.com, "Can bridge of magpies span divisions in U.S.?," 8 Aug. 2019 Embellished with marabou feathers, her pink mini dress was suitably festive, while offering a different take on dressing for an event where less is usually more. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Rihanna Proves She’s the Queen of Crop Over in Barbados," 5 Aug. 2019 The wooden bar top is burnished with feathers designed by Hofmann's wife, Kat, who also created artwork for the lounge area. Kathy Flanigan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Sahale Ale Works brewery and taproom will open in Grafton on July 20," 8 July 2019 Queen Bey was perfectly dressed for the occasion, wearing a gold-sequenced catsuit featuring the face of a lion and adorned with massive feathers resembling a lion’s mane. Justine Browning, EW.com, "Beyoncé meets Nala from Broadway's The Lion King ahead of Disney remake," 19 June 2019 Actress and former fashion model Diane Kruger arrived at the Montblanc party for the new StarWalker pen and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing wearing a stunning Valentino shift dress with feathers. Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle, "Diane Kruger talks fashion, her ankle tattoo at Montblanc party," 13 June 2019 Breeds with thicker plumage do better in cold climates, while those without a lot of extra insulation, such as Silkies (a fabulously ornamental breed with feathers that look more like fur) live comfortably in warmer climates. Denise Foley, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Raising Backyard Chickens," 14 Aug. 2018 Not to mention the endless possibilities a bit or a bucket load of glitter, a few golden feathers and scrunchies can offer. Kevin Williams, chicagotribune.com, "Lollapalooza 2019: Things we loved from day 4, but Ariana Grande was a pop star on autopilot," 4 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Anonymous comments on the Second City Cop blog have called for Cunat and Viets-VanLear to be tarred and feathered and ridden out on a rail. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "News / Education / Crime Distinguished CPS principal resigns after threats, controversy over anti-police speaker," 19 June 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

6 Sep 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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