Meaning of WHEEL in English

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)

• • •


■ adjectives

▪ 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.

■ verbs

▪ 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.

■ phrases

▪ 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

wheel around

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.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.