I. wheel 1 S2 W3 /wiːl/ BrE AmE noun [countable]
[ Language: Old English ; Origin: hweogol , hweol ]
1 . ON A VEHICLE one of the round things under a car, bus, bicycle etc that turns when it moves front/rear/back wheels :
The car slid sideways, its rear wheels spinning.
⇨ ↑ four-wheel drive
2 . FOR CONTROLLING A VEHICLE [usually singular] the round piece of equipment that you turn to make a car, ship etc move in a particular direction
at/behind the wheel (=driving a car)
The driver must have fallen asleep at the wheel.
Shall I take the wheel (=drive instead of someone else) ?
⇨ ↑ steering wheel
3 . IN A MACHINE a flat round part in a machine that turns round when the machine operates:
a gear wheel
4 . the wheels of something the way in which a complicated organization, system etc works:
We hope that the next government will do more to keep the wheels of industry turning (=help it to work smoothly and easily) .
oil/grease the wheels (of something) (=help something to work more smoothly and easily)
The money people spend at Christmas oils the wheels of the economy.
5 . the wheel of fortune/life/time etc the way in which things change in life, or in which the same things seem to happen again after a period of time:
We are powerless to stop the wheel of history.
6 . (set of) wheels spoken a car:
Do you like my new wheels?
7 . wheels within wheels spoken used to say that a situation is complicated and difficult to understand because it involves processes and decisions that you know nothing about
8 . set the wheels in motion/set the wheels turning to make a particular process start:
It only took one phone call to set the wheels in motion.
9 . a/the big wheel informal an important person:
He became a big wheel in the East India Company.
⇨ put your shoulder to the wheel at ↑ shoulder 1 (8), ⇨ put a spoke in sb’s wheel at ↑ spoke 2 (2), ⇨ reinvent the wheel at ↑ reinvent (3)
• • •
▪ the front wheel
Turn your front wheels in the direction of the skid.
▪ the back/rear wheel
The rear wheels of the bus got stuck in a creek.
▪ a wheel turns/goes around
The wheels went slowly around.
▪ a wheel spins (=turns around quickly, when the vehicle is not going along)
The rear wheels spun in the sand.
▪ the spokes of a wheel (=the thin metal bars that connect the outer ring of a wheel to the centre, especially on a bicycle wheel)
II. wheel 2 BrE AmE verb
1 . [transitive always + adverb/preposition]
a) to push something that has wheels somewhere:
Kate wheeled her bike into the garage.
b) to move someone or something that is in or on something that has wheels:
Two nurses were wheeling him into the operating theatre.
2 . [intransitive] if birds or planes wheel, they fly around in circles
3 . [intransitive] to turn around suddenly
She wheeled around and started yelling at us.
4 . wheel and deal to do a lot of complicated and sometimes dishonest deals, especially in politics or business
wheel somebody/something ↔ in/out phrasal verb informal
to publicly produce someone or something and use them to help you achieve something:
Then the prosecution wheeled in a surprise witness.
The government wheeled out the same old arguments to support its election campaign.
• • •
▪ push to make something or someone move by pressing them with your hands, arms etc:
Push the door, don’t pull it.
She pushed him away and walked out.
▪ shove to push someone or something in a rough or careless way:
People were shoving to get to the front of the queue.
Tom shoved his suitcase under the bed.
▪ stuff informal to push something quickly and carelessly into a small space:
She stuffed a few clothes into a bag and left.
▪ poke to push someone or something with your finger or something sharp:
I poked the snake with a stick but it was dead.
▪ nudge to push someone beside you gently with your elbow to get their attention:
Toby nudged me and pointed out of the window.
▪ roll to push something round or something on wheels so that it moves forward:
They rolled the logs down the hill.
The car still didn’t start so we tried to roll it off the road.
▪ wheel to push something with wheels, for example a bicycle or a ↑ trolley , so that it moves forward, while guiding it with your hands:
Rob wheeled his bike round the back of the house.