noun, often attributive
\ ˈ(h)wēl How to pronounce wheel (audio) \

Definition of wheel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a circular frame of hard material that may be solid, partly solid, or spoked and that is capable of turning on an axle
2 : a contrivance or apparatus having as its principal part a wheel: such as
a : a chiefly medieval instrument of torture designed for mutilating a victim (as by stretching or disjointing)
c : any of many revolving disks or drums used as gambling paraphernalia
3a : an imaginary turning wheel symbolizing the inconstancy of fortune
b : a recurring course, development, or action : cycle
4 : something (such as a round, flat cheese) resembling a wheel in shape
5a : a curving or circular movement
b : a rotation or turn usually about an axis or center specifically : a turning movement of troops or ships in line in which the units preserve alignment and relative positions as they change direction
6a : a moving or essential part of something compared to a machine the wheels of government
b : a directing or controlling force
c : a person of importance especially in an organization a big wheel
7 : the refrain or burden of a song
8a : a circuit of theaters or places of entertainment
b : a sports league
9 wheels plural, slang : a wheeled vehicle especially : automobile
10 wheels plural, slang : legs


wheeled; wheeling; wheels

Definition of wheel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to turn on or as if on an axis : revolve
2 : to change direction as if revolving on a pivot the battalion would have wheeled to the flank— Walter Bernstein her mind will wheel around to the other extreme— Liam O'Flaherty wheeled to face her opponent
3 : to move or extend in a circle or curve birds in wheeling flight valleys where young cotton wheeled slowly in fanlike rows— William Faulkner
4 : to travel on or as if on wheels or in a wheeled vehicle

transitive verb

1 : to cause to turn on or as if on an axis : rotate
2 : to convey or move on or as if on wheels or in a wheeled vehicle wheeled the patient back to his room wheeled the car into the driveway wheel in the experts
3 : to cause to change direction as if revolving on a pivot
4 : to make or perform in a circle or curve
wheel and deal
: to make deals or do business especially shrewdly or briskly

Illustration of wheel

Illustration of wheel


wheel 1: 1 hub, 2 spoke, 3 felly, 4 tire

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from wheel


wheelless \ ˈ(h)wēl-​ləs How to pronounce wheelless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of wheel in a Sentence

Noun The car's rear wheels started to spin on the icy road. the wheels of a train a suitcase with wheels on the bottom a wheel of cheddar cheese Verb Doctors wheeled the patient into the operating room. He wheeled his motorcycle into the garage. Our waiter wheeled out a small dessert cart. She wheeled around in her chair when I entered the room.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Anyone who has sat behind the wheel of a Tesla with Ludicrous or Insane acceleration modes knows that these are no weenie compliance cars. Annie White, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2020 Tesla Model Y Long Range Crosses Over Into the Mainstream," 24 June 2020 The two days prior to the first weekend will be reserved for testing, which for some drivers will be their first time back behind the wheel of a race car. Ethan Sears, The Indianapolis Star, "Drivers ready and eager as NHRA nears return," 24 June 2020 The man behind the wheel of the truck in the video, later identified as Jeff Boucher, was fired from his job at Wyckoff Comfort, the heating and air conditioning company tweeted Tuesday. Fox News, "Iowa police chief claims Facebook comment purportedly calling BLM protesters 'road bumps' was 'a total accident'," 24 June 2020 Brooks, 27, was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. Time, "Rayshard Brooks Honored at Atlanta Funeral Inside Martin Luther King Jr.'s Former Church," 23 June 2020 Brooks, 27, was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe after a struggle that erupted when police tried to handcuff him for being intoxicated behind the wheel of his car at a Wendy’s drive-thru. BostonGlobe.com, "Future of Seattle’s protest zone uncertain as police promise to return after shootings," 23 June 2020 But Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan insisted his officers did everything by the book during the incident that unfolded on Thursday when 23-year-old Joneshia Wilkerson, behind the wheel of a Nissan Altima, was pulled over. NBC News, "Video shows Florida officer immediately draw gun on woman, aim at her for over 4 minutes," 22 June 2020 An officer found Brooks asleep behind the wheel of the car, and a breath test showed he was intoxicated. Kate Brumback, Anchorage Daily News, "Atlanta officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in the back charged with murder," 17 June 2020 An officer found Brooks asleep behind the wheel of the car and called for another officer to do field sobriety testing. Dallas News, "Atlanta officer who killed Rayshard Brooks charged with felony murder," 17 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Coulson then took the shots from Sousa’s real assassin and took a dive in the pool — long enough for Daisy and Simmons to show up disguised as medics and wheel him out of there. Christian Holub, EW.com, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: The death and life of Agent Sousa," 18 June 2020 Fully adjustable and easy to wheel around from room to room, the RoomyRoc eliminates the need for a big standalone desk, giving you options and convenience without taking up large amounts of space. Popular Science, "Essential laptop accessories that make working way more comfortable," 16 June 2020 Internal records show the team had a simple plan: overwhelm Garcia, handcuff him, put him in a restraint chair and wheel him into a safety cell a few feet away. Thalia Beaty, ProPublica, "Somebody’s Gotta Help Me”," 16 June 2020 Employees saw the man, 39, walk into the store and load three large LED bathroom light sets valued at $830 onto a cart, then wheel it to the customer service desk, seeking to exchange them for cash. Joan Rusek, cleveland, "Never-on-Sunday serial shoplifter caught: Bainbridge Township Police Blotter," 15 June 2020 Over dystopian scenes of people being wheeled on gurneys, filling out unemployment-insurance forms and standing in long lines while wearing surgical masks, lachrymose string music plays. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "This Anti-Trump Ad Is Just the Beginning of a Narrative Free-for-All," 27 May 2020 Then, on a particularly warm, sunny day, workers at the home wheeled Craig into the backyard so Pedersen could see him for a moment. Jennifer Smith Richards, ProPublica, "More Than 1 in 5 Illinoisans Living in State Homes for Adults With Disabilities Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus," 22 May 2020 This wheeled, sweeping and lifting motion created a successful crawling motion for the rover, even when one of its limbs was intentionally disabled. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "'Mini Rover' can wiggle and crawl its way across tricky terrain on other planets," 13 May 2020 Edge Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State: The Seahawks are always wheeling and dealing in the first round. Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times, "After Joe Burrow at No. 1 of NFL draft, who gets Love?," 22 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wheel.' 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 wheel


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for wheel


Middle English, from Old English hweogol, hwēol; akin to Old Norse hvēl wheel, Greek kyklos circle, wheel, Skt cakra, Latin colere to cultivate, inhabit, Sanskrit carati he moves, wanders

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Time Traveler for wheel

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for wheel

Last Updated

29 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wheel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wheel. Accessed 6 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for wheel


How to pronounce wheel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wheel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one of the round parts underneath a car, wagon, etc., that rolls and allows something to move
: a hard, round object that turns and causes machinery or a mechanical device to move
: something that is round like a wheel or that turns like a wheel



English Language Learners Definition of wheel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to move (someone or something) on a vehicle that has wheels
: to push (something) that has wheels on it
: to turn quickly and face a different direction


\ ˈhwēl How to pronounce wheel (audio) , ˈwēl \

Kids Definition of wheel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a disk or circular frame that can turn on a central point
2 : something that is round a wheel of cheese
3 : steering wheel His hands tightly gripped the wheel.
4 : something having a wheel as its main part a spinning wheel
5 wheels plural : moving power : necessary parts the wheels of government

Other Words from wheel

wheeled \ ˈhwēld , wēld \ adjective


wheeled; wheeling

Kids Definition of wheel (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to carry or move on wheels or in a vehicle with wheels
2 : rotate sense 1 Seagulls wheeled above the boat.
3 : to change direction as if turning on a central point I wheeled and faced them.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wheel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wheel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wheel

Spanish Central: Translation of wheel

Nglish: Translation of wheel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wheel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wheel

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