wheel (wēl, hwēl)
1. A solid disk or a rigid circular ring connected by spokes to a hub, designed to turn around an axle passed through the center.
2. Something that rotates like a wheel or or has a wheel as its principal part or characteristic, as:
a. The steering device on a vehicle.
b. A potter's wheel.
c. A water wheel.
d. A spinning wheel.
e. Games A device used in roulette and other games of chance.
f. A firework that rotates while burning.
g. Informal A bicycle.
3. A large, roughly circular block of cheese.
4. A wheel-shaped instrument on which victims were bound for torture and execution in medieval and early modern Europe.
5. wheels Forces that provide energy, movement, or direction: the wheels of commerce.
6. The act or process of turning; revolution or rotation.
7. A military maneuver executed in order to change the direction of movement of a formation, as of troops or ships, in which the formation is maintained while the outer unit describes an arc and the inner or center unit remains stationary as a pivot.
8. wheels Slang A motor vehicle or access thereto: Do you have wheels tonight?
9. Slang A person with a great deal of power or influence: a wheel in state government.
v. wheeled, wheel·ing, wheels
1. To roll, move, or transport on wheels or a wheel.
2. To cause to turn around or as if around a central axis; revolve or rotate.
3. To provide with wheels or a wheel.
1. To turn around or as if around a central axis; revolve or rotate.
2. To roll or move on or as if on wheels or a wheel.
3. To fly in a curving or circular course: A flock of gulls wheeled just above the dock.
4. To turn or whirl around in place; pivot: "The boy wheeled and the fried eggs leaped from his tray" (Ivan Gold).
5. To reverse one's opinion or practice: Don't be surprised if the boss wheels about on that idea.
at/behind the wheel
1. Operating the steering mechanism of a vehicle; driving.
2. Directing or controlling; in charge.
wheel and deal Informal
To engage in the advancement of one's own interests, especially in a canny, aggressive, or unscrupulous way.
[Middle English, from Old English hwēol; see kwel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.