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

The Takoma Park Independence Day Parade is the First Amendment on wheels — and with music. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Forget Carnegie Hall. Nothing beats a pickup truck for a true concert experience.," 8 July 2018 Miranda is using a large linear actuator on large wheels, slowly moving one column at a time. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "This Sand Printing Robot Is What You Need If You're Stranded on a Desert Island," 3 July 2018 Chef Makini Howell’s brainchild on wheels serves a seasonal menu of burgers and burger-adjacents all intended to appeal to vegans and meat-eaters alike. Zoe Sayler, The Seattle Times, "Seattle’s veggie burgers: Eating your vegetables never tasted this good," 3 July 2018 The academy has seven different ovens, including one on wheels, so students can learn how to craft pizzas in different styles. Suzanne Baker, Naperville Sun, "Chefs on a mission to make Lisle 'the mecca of the pizza world' with new academy," 23 June 2018 The work itself sounded just so-so, but the man painted it as something bigger—a vision of a new kind of city, with fewer cars clogging the landscape and a metropolis made safe for people on two wheels. Mark Harris, WIRED, "The Bike Share War Is Shaking Up Seattle Like Nowhere Else," 14 June 2018 Having a home on wheels was simultaneously invigorating and exhausting. Will Egensteiner, Outside Online, "Testing Out #VanLife While Holding Down a 9-to-5," 12 June 2018 Working in a restaurant kitchen can be a stressful environment, but how about a restaurant on wheels in triple-digit heat? Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY, "Regulations and permit headaches keep food trucks from cruising down Easy Street," 12 June 2018 Although there is a minor hiccup at the end, the movie otherwise runs on very smooth wheels. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "In Ocean’s 8, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 What’s this?’ a nurse asked, wheeling a machine in. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Anne Tyler's latest novel evokes Hamilton. Here are possible real-life stand-ins for locations in 'Clock Dance'," 13 July 2018 When the officer caught up to him, Anderson wheeled around and struck the officer again, police said. Dave Altimari, courant.com, "Police: West Hartford Officer Injured In Fight With Shoplifting Suspect," 17 May 2018 For all that the world’s focus, for the last five weeks, has been on the multicultural carnival wheeling around Russia, the World Cup’s impact stretches far beyond the borders of its host. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Four Countries. Two Games. One Goal.," 12 July 2018 When officers wheeled out the corpse on a stretcher, covered in canvas, the man’s uncle ran toward them. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, "Man's body found in arabber stable in West Baltimore," 15 June 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

9 Nov 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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Comments on wheel

What made you want to look up wheel? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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