wing nut

noun
variants: or wingnut play \ˈwiŋ-ˌnət\
|Updated on: 12 Jun 2018

Definition of wing nut

plural wing nuts or wingnuts
1 usually wing nut : a nut with wings that provide a grip for the thumb and finger
  • The wing nut on the handle is tightened to secure the blade in the measured position.
  • The Home Tool Kit
2 slang : a mentally unsound person
  • Ever since his mesmerizing performance as a psychotic cop killer in 1979's The Onion Field, Woods has possessed the image of a driven, angry, over-the-edge wing nut.
  • —Susan Schindehette et al.
3 slang : one who advocates extreme measures or changes (as in politics)
  • Many on Cheney's staff see Bush's aides as too liberal, while some Bush aides view the vice-presidential staff as wing nuts.
  • —Nancy Gibbs and Mike Allen
  • Russia proved highly susceptible to the lure of what, in current parlance, would be called wingnuts (fanatics on the far left or right).
  • The Economist

First Known Use of wing nut

1834

in the meaning defined at sense 1

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WING NUT Defined for English Language Learners

wing nut

Definition of wing nut for English Language Learners

  • : a piece of metal that has a hole in the center and two projecting parts and that you can screw onto a bolt by using your fingers


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