noun, often attributive
\ ˈhwēl How to pronounce wheel (audio) , 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
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 How to pronounce wheelless (audio) , 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

My test vehicle had cloth seats with manual adjustments that were comfortable over the course of a day behind the wheel. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "Every car should be a little like the 2020 Toyota Corolla hybrid," 11 Sep. 2019 Tiger was in the passenger seat and his partner was behind the wheel. AZCentral.com, "Police shootings in Arizona," 10 Sep. 2019 Yet another Tesla driver has apparently fallen asleep behind the wheel while his car cruised down the freeway. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Another Tesla driver apparently fell asleep—here’s what Tesla could do," 10 Sep. 2019 The family struggled to get any information about who was behind the wheel, even after filing a negligence lawsuit against the company. Patricia Callahan, New York Times, "The Human Cost of Amazon’s Fast, Free Shipping," 5 Sep. 2019 The family struggled to get any information about who was behind the wheel, even after filing a negligence lawsuit against the company. Patricia Callahan, ProPublica, "How Amazon Hooked America on Fast Delivery While Avoiding Responsibility for Crashes," 5 Sep. 2019 Other factors that go into the mix include: Your age, gender and marital status: Statistics show young drivers (with less experience behind the wheel) and male drivers are more likely to have an accident. NBC News, "7 things you should know about auto and car insurance," 4 Sep. 2019 One in three patients who have implanted devices for irregular heartbeats still drive, despite being banned from getting behind the wheel, a new Danish study finds. chicagotribune.com, "Bans not keeping drivers with implanted defibrillators off the road," 3 Sep. 2019 Banks was back behind the wheel on Reisterstown Road again this week, Baltimore Police said, twice leading them on high-speed chases and at least once charging his car toward officers. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Man fatally shot by Baltimore police this week led officers on perilous high-speed chase before, records show," 29 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Traffic to the airport was also at a standstill, with reports of desperate travelers abandoning their vehicles on the highway and trudging many kilometers to the airport, wheeling their suitcases behind them. Time Staff, Time, "Students Boycott Classes on the First Day of the School Year in Hong Kong's Latest Democracy Protest," 2 Sep. 2019 Neither had Wei Mu and Chih Ling, graduate students from Taiwan, who were wheeling their cart out of the 99 Ranch market in El Cerrito’s Pacific East Mall Thursday. Mallory Moench, SFChronicle.com, "Delivery app feeds Bay Area households’ hunger for Asian groceries," 31 Aug. 2019 Within minutes Vic is wheeling one of his regular passengers, a man who is diabetic and visually impaired, down a hall and into the van, ignoring the surly stream of complaints pouring from his mouth. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Give Me Liberty’ is a brilliant madcap farce on wheels," 29 Aug. 2019 Some people wheel their dogs around in little strollers. Anchorage Daily News, "The dog is one of the world’s most destructive mammals. Brazil proves it.," 21 Aug. 2019 The fad caught on and soon every punk 10-year-old was wheeling this way and that, threatening to knock you over at the mall. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Scooters, bikes and mopeds aren’t enough. We want dockless everything!," 18 Aug. 2019 The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a full-on smooch in front of the crowd at the Sentebale Polo Cup, and international polo player Nacho Figueras is third-wheeling during it like a champ. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Kissed (Yes, Kissed!) at the Sentebale Polo Match," 26 July 2018 Instead, the Pride faced the image of a stretcher being wheeled out for the team’s star striker. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride beat Chicago Red Stars 2-1 despite early Alex Morgan injury," 23 Aug. 2019 One by Arnost Jilovsky, born in 1931, depicts a wire fence with wheeling birds and fluffy clouds beyond. The Economist, "Historical memorials are not enough to stop anti-Semitism in Europe," 22 Aug. 2019

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

14 Sep 2019

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 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

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

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


to make a temporary encampment

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