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

Extras on our tester included 16-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels with P195/50R16 tires ($300); and carpeted floor and cargo-area mats ($224). G. Chambers Williams Iii, Houston Chronicle, "COMPACT," 13 July 2018 There will be a safety driver present in each vehicle, and Daimler is sticking with a steering wheel and pedals for now (unlike GM’s plans for its autonomous Chevy Bolts). Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Mercedes-Benz self-driving taxi pilot coming to Silicon Valley in 2019," 11 July 2018 With advancing age, senescent cells take the wheel, and the human body careens into disease states ranging from cancer and diabetes to arthritis, vision loss and dementia. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "This drug cocktail reduced signs of age-related diseases and extended life in mice and human cells," 10 July 2018 But then fate took the wheel and the remote control. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Dog Missing Two Years Reunites with Family After Pet Parents Spot Him on TV Adoption Segment," 6 July 2018 Following a decorated career that included four wins on this storied superspeedway, the sport’s most popular driver traded a steering wheel for a microphone at the end of the 2017 season and now serves as a color analyst for NBC Sports. Edgar Thompson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Dale Earnhardt Jr. shifts gears as NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports," 6 July 2018 Garnish with a fresh or dehydrated lime wheel, and stalk of lemongrass. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Mocktail recipes: How to make tasty non-alcoholic drinks for your Fourth of July party," 3 July 2018 But LeBron James ended up choosing the Los Angeles Lakers, a befuddling team of misfit toys with square wheels and bad mixtapes. Chris Gayomali, GQ, "The Upside of the Lakers," 2 July 2018 Your July 4 questions answered However, fireworks such as sparklers, smoke, fountains, crackers, strobe, wheels and spinners are permitted, according to the Bryant Law Center. Louisville Courier Journal, The Courier-Journal, "Here are the places you can (and can't) light fireworks in Louisville," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 According to his arrest report, Blanc, who had been under police surveillance since Bernard was found dead the day before, was spotted early Tuesday morning having trouble wheeling a trash can outside. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Florida man accused of killing pregnant wife, trying to cut up her body," 14 June 2018 Video of the Monday graduation for LeFlore High School, shows the skinny robot dressed in a cap and gown, an iPad with Pettway on its screen placed at its head, wheeling across the stage after school officials call her name. Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post, "A robot helped a sick high school senior experience graduation from the hospital," 17 May 2018 Satellite imagery shows clouds wheeling over the state. David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle, "Inside PG&E’s new fire forecasting center," 8 May 2018 In a small-sided game, Bolt raced onto Gotze's cross and directed an excellent header into the bottom corner (42:20 below), wheeling away before giving the German a thumbs up for the pass. Nina Mandell, USA TODAY, "Usain Bolt scored goal at Borussia Dortmund training," 23 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

12 Oct 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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