noun, often attributive
\ˈhwēl, ˈwēl\

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)

b : bicycle

c : any of many revolving disks or drums used as gambling paraphernalia

d : potter's wheel

e : steering wheel

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 \ˈhwēl-​ləs, ˈwēl-​ \ adjective

Examples of wheel in a Sentence


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


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

Some of the only buttons to be found are the thumb dials on the steering wheel, another echo of the Model 3. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The all-electric Rivian R1T is a dream truck for adventurers," 26 Nov. 2018 State governments owned lottery wheels, which were used for drawing tickets, and politicians would lend them to the organizations the state permitted to hold drawings. Jonathan D. Cohen, Vox, "How lottery money helped build the United States," 24 Oct. 2018 While seasoned entertainers will host ravishing parties with an effortless finesse, the average and aspiring hostess-with-the-mostess will hesitantly take the wheel, and simultaneously brace for impact. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "A Celebrity Event Planner’s Secrets for the Best Holiday Party Ever," 10 Oct. 2018 However, do not get confused, as the Houses are not the same as the zodiac wheel, which is based on the sun’s yearly rotational movement. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "The 12 Astrological Houses: Interpreting Your Birth Chart Beyond the Zodiac," 6 Oct. 2018 Even without the display behind the steering wheel, VW’s latest infotainment system is a delight. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is making a last stand for sedans," 24 Aug. 2018 While Mickey’s face is still centered on the pier’s version of a Ferris wheel, that wheel is now the Pixar Pal-A-Round. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Disneyland's Pixar Pier: Should you go now, go later or not go at all?," 10 July 2018 Mom’s at the wheel, grandma’s in the passenger seat, and four children, including a boy in a wheelchair, fill in the two rows in the back. Dan Simmons, Washington Post, "Two years after Philando Castile’s death, programs aim to transform relations between police, residents," 8 July 2018 At one point, shovels were also needed to dig out the wheels, the 11-minute video shows. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "GPS seriously misleads trucker on NC coast. He nearly drove straight into the ocean.," 4 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

For one, many cities are better equipped to deal with invasive tech species like scooters, given this is their second go-around with free-wheeling tech companies. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "The bare-knuckle tactics Uber used to get its way with regulators are not going to work for scooter startups," 30 Aug. 2018 The bottom line is that the Massachusetts legislation is unlikely to go very far in creating the kind of free-wheeling labor market that exists in Silicon Valley, with employees able to switch employers at any time. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Massachusetts gives workers new protections against noncompete clauses," 21 Aug. 2018 Even in Silicon Valley, its Mountainview, Calif., campus is seen as a bastion of free-wheeling discourse. Douglas Macmillan, WSJ, "Google Reins In Workplace Debate," 28 June 2018 The Raptor has already wheeled around and headed for home, supercruising out of Syrian airspace at Mach 1. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "What a U.S.-Russian War in Syria Could Look Like," 9 Oct. 2015 Staffers wheel him out to a windowless visitation room, where Van Leer and her sister spoon-feed him nutrition shakes and give him back rubs. Jonel Aleccia And Melissa Bailey, USA TODAY, "Unlocked and loaded: Families confront dementia and guns," 1 July 2018 The defenseman dragged the puck between the circles and slid it to Oshie in the right circle, who wheeled it back to Carlson in the slot for the punch-in. Adam Candee, Detroit Free Press, "Vegas Golden Knights clip Washington Capitals, 6-4, in Game 1 thriller," 29 May 2018 Throw on some weather-appropriate gear and venture out for a hike, bike, run, wheel or stroll — no more excuses! Ashleigh Spitza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Colorful vegetarian menu crosses bridge to spring," 7 Apr. 2018 Six minutes after coming on, the 36-year-old netted a ridiculous 40-yard screamer, placing a shot over the backtracking goalkeeper Tyler Miller before removing his shirt and wheeling away in celebration. SI.com, "The Lion: Zlatan Ibrahimovic Scores Twice on MLS Debut As LA Galaxy Beat Los Angeles 4-3," 31 Mar. 2018

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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Statistics for wheel

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wheel

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

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More Definitions for wheel



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, 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wheel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

Comments on wheel

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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