[slang "big wheel" for a powerful person] A person who has an active wheel bit. "We need to find a wheel to unwedge the hung tape drives." (See wedged).

(01 Jul 2002)

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1. To convey on wheels, or in a wheeled vehicle; as, to wheel a load of hay or wood.

2. To put into a rotatory motion; to cause to turn or revolve; to cause to gyrate; to make or perform in a circle. "The beetle wheels her droning flight." "Now heaven, in all her glory, shone, and rolled Her motions, as the great first mover's hand First wheeled their course." (Milton)

Origin: Wheeled; Wheeling.

1. A circular frame turning about an axis; a rotating disk, whether solid, or a frame composed of an outer rim, spokes or radii, and a central hub or nave, in which is inserted the axle, used for supporting and conveying vehicles, in machinery, and for various purposes; as, the wheel of a wagon, of a locomotive, of a mill, of a watch, etc. "The gasping charioteer beneath the wheel Of his own car." (Dryden)

2. Any instrument having the form of, or chiefly consisting of, a wheel. Specifically:

A spinning wheel. See Spinning.

An instrument of torture formerly used. "His examination is like that which is made by the rack and wheel." (Addison)

This mode of torture is said to have been first employed in Germany, in the fourteenth century. The criminal was laid on a cart wheel with his legs and arms extended, and his limbs in that posture were fractured with an iron bar. In France, where its use was restricted to the most atrocious crimes, the criminal was first laid on a frame of wood in the form of a St. Andrew's cross, with grooves cut transversely in it above and below the knees and elbows, and the executioner struck eight blows with an iron bar, so as to break the limbs in those places, sometimes finishing by two or three blows on the chest or stomach, which usually put an end to the life of the criminal, and were hence called coups-de-grace blows of mercy. The criminal was then unbound, and laid on a small wheel, with his face upward, and his arms and legs doubled under him, there to expire, if he had survived the previous treatment.

A circular frame having handles on the periphery, and an axle which is so connected with the tiller as to form a means of controlling the rudder for the purpose of steering.

A potter's wheel. See Potter. "Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels." (Jer. Xviii. 3) "Turn, turn, my wheel! This earthen jar A touch can make, a touch can mar.

<chemistry> " (Longfellow) A firework which, while burning, is caused to revolve on an axis by the reaction of the escaping gases.

The burden or refrain of a song.

"This meaning has a low degree of authority, but is supposed from the context in the few cases where the word is found." "You must sing a-down a-down, An you call him a-down-a. O, how the wheel becomes it!" (Shak)

3. A bicycle or a tricycle; a velocipede.

4. A rolling or revolving body; anything of a circular form; a disk; an orb.

5. A turn revolution; rotation; compass. "According to the common vicissitude and wheel of things, the proud and the insolent, after long trampling upon others, come at length to be trampled upon themselves." (South) "[He] throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel." (Milton) A wheel within a wheel, or Wheels within wheels, a complication of circumstances, motives, etc. Balance wheel. Bevel wheel, Brake wheel, Cam wheel, Fifth wheel, Overshot wheel, Spinning wheel, etc. See Bevel, Brake, etc. Core wheel.

Any one of numerous species of rotifers having a ciliated disk at the anterior end. Wheel barometer.

<physics> A stitch resembling a spider's web, worked into the material, and not over an open space.

<botany> Wheel tree, a circular window having radiating mullions arranged like the spokes of a wheel. Cf. Rose window, under Rose.

Origin: OE. Wheel, hweol, AS. Hweol, hweogul, hweowol; akin to D. Wiel, Icel. Hvel, Gr, Skr. Cakra; cf. Icel. Hjol, Dan. Hiul, Sw. Hjul. 218 Cf. Cycle, Cyclopedia.

(01 Mar 1998)

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