/ wiːl; NAmE / noun , verb
ON / IN VEHICLES
[ C ] one of the round objects under a car, bicycle, bus, etc. that turns when it moves :
He braked suddenly, causing the front wheels to skid.
One of the boys was pushing the other along in a little box on wheels .
[ C , usually sing. ] the round object used to steer a car, etc. or ship :
This is the first time I've sat behind the wheel since the accident.
A car swept past with Laura at the wheel .
Do you want to take the wheel (= drive) now?
—see also helm , steering wheel
wheels [ pl. ] ( informal ) a car :
At last he had his own wheels.
[ C ] a flat round part in a machine :
—see also cartwheel , Catherine wheel , Ferris wheel , mill wheel , spinning wheel , waterwheel
ORGANIZATION / SYSTEM
wheels [ pl. ] wheel (of sth) an organization or a system that seems to work like a complicated machine that is difficult to understand :
the wheels of bureaucracy / commerce / government, etc.
It was Rob's idea. I merely set the wheels in motion (= started the process) .
(in adjectives) having the number or type of wheels mentioned :
a sixteen-wheeled lorry
(in nouns) a car, bicycle, etc. with the number of wheels mentioned :
- wheels within wheels
—more at cog , grease verb , oil verb , reinvent , shoulder noun , spoke
[usually + adv. / prep. ]
MOVE STH WITH WHEELS
[ vn ] to push or pull sth that has wheels :
She wheeled her bicycle across the road.
[ vn ] to move sb/sth that is in or on sth that has wheels :
The nurse wheeled him along the corridor.
MOVE IN CIRCLE
[ v ] to move or fly in a circle :
Birds wheeled above us in the sky.
to turn quickly or suddenly and face the opposite direction; to make sb/sth do this :
[ v ]
She wheeled around and started running.
[ vn ]
He wheeled his horse back to the gate.
- wheel and deal
- wheel sth out
Old English hwēol (noun), of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit cakra wheel, circle and Greek kuklos circle.