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wing / wing/ • n. 1. any of a number of specialized paired appendages that enable some animals to fly, in particular: ∎  (in a bird) a modified forelimb that bears large feathers. ∎  (in a bat or pterosaur) a modified forelimb with skin stretched between or behind the fingers. ∎  (in most insects) each of two or four flat extensions of the thoracic cuticle, either transparent or covered in scales. ∎  the meat on the wing bone of a bird used as food. ∎  (usu. wings) fig. power or means of flight or rapid motion: time flies by on wings. 2. a rigid horizontal structure that projects from both sides of an aircraft and supports it in the air. ∎  (wings) a pilot's certificate of ability to fly a plane, indicated by a badge representing a pair of wings: Michael earned his wings as a commercial pilot. 3. a part that projects, in particular: ∎  Brit. a raised part of the body of a car or other vehicle above the wheel. ∎  a part of a large building, esp. one that projects from the main part: the maternity wing at South Cleveland Hospital. ∎  either end (port or starboard) of a ship’s navigational bridge. ∎ Anat. a lateral part or projection of an organ or structure. ∎  Bot. a thin membranous appendage of a fruit or seed that is dispersed by the wind. 4. a group within a political party or other organization that holds particular views or has a particular function: Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA. 5. a side area, or a person or activity associated with that area, in particular: ∎  (the wings) the sides of a theater stage out of view of the audience. ∎  (in soccer, rugby, and other games) the part of the field close to the sidelines. ∎  (in soccer, ice hockey, and other games) an attacking player who plays mostly forward close to one side of the field or rink. ∎  a flank of a battle array. 6. an air force unit of several squadrons or groups. • v. 1. [intr.] travel on wings or by aircraft; fly: a bird came winging around the corner. ∎  move, travel, or be sent quickly, as if flying: the prize will be winging its way to you soon. ∎  [tr.] throw with the arm: he scooped up the ball and winged it toward Freddie. ∎  [tr.] send or convey (something) quickly, as if by air: just jot down the title on a postcard and wing it to us. ∎  [tr.] archaic enable (someone or something) to fly or move rapidly: the convent was at some distance, but fear would wing her steps. 2. [tr.] shoot (a bird) in the wing, so as to prevent flight without causing death: one bird was winged for every bird killed. ∎  wound (someone) superficially, esp. in the arm or shoulder. 3. (wing it) inf. speak or act without preparation; improvise: a little boning up puts you ahead of the job seekers who try to wing it. PHRASES: in the wings ready to do something or to be used at the appropriate time: there are no obvious successors waiting in the wings.on the wing (of a bird) in flight.on a wing and a prayer with only the slightest chance of success.spread (or stretch or try) one's wings extend one's activities and interests or start new ones.take wing (of a bird, insect, or other winged creature) fly away.under one's wing in or into one's protective care.DERIVATIVES: wing·less adj. wing·like / -ˌlīk/ adj. ORIGIN: Middle English (originally in the plural): from Old Norse vængir, plural of vængr.

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1. Part of a building, or any feature of a building, projecting from and subordinate to the main, central part. In Classical and especially Palladian compositions the wings are smaller buildings on either side of the corps de logis, perhaps joined to it by means of quadrants or colonnades, and projecting forward to partially enclose a court or cour d'honneur.

2. Part of a building with its roof at right angles to the adjacent main range, as in a hall-and-cross-wing medieval timber-framed house, with the hall-range flanked by one or two wings.

3. Fillet on a moulding.

4. Straight or curved projecting wall at each side and end of a bridge, also the retaining-wall at each end of a bridge to sustain the bank.

5. One of the folds of a double door or screen.

6. Lateral wall of a rectangular Classical temple, or the space between the cell walls and the peristyle.


Alcock,, Barley,, Dixon,, & and Meeson (1996);
Gwilt (1903);
W. Papworth (1892);
Sturgis et al. (1901–2)

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wingBeijing, bing, bring, Chungking, cling, ding, dingaling, fling, I Ching, king, Kunming, ling, Ming, Nanjing, Peking, ping, ring, sing, Singh, sling, spring, sting, string, swing, Synge, thing, ting, wing, wring, Xining, zing •saying, slaying •bricklaying • minelaying •being, far-seeing, unseeing •sightseeing • well-being •blackberrying •dairying, unvarying •unwearying •self-pitying, unpitying •belying, dying, lying, self-denying, tying, vying •unedifying • unsatisfying • outlying •drawing • underdrawing •easygoing, flowing, going, knowing, mowing, outgoing, showing, sowing, thoroughgoing, toing and froing •seagoing • ongoing • foregoing •theatregoing • churchgoing •following • borrowing • annoying •bluing, doing, misdoing •evil-doing • wrongdoing

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wing a wing and a prayer reliance on hope or the slightest chance in a desperate situation; the phrase comes from a song by the American songwriter Harold Adamson (1906–80), derived from the contemporary comment of a wartime pilot, speaking from a disabled plane to ground control.
spread one's wings extend one's activities and interests or start new ones.
under one's wing in or into one's protective care.

See also a bird never flew on one wing, the mother of mischief is no bigger than a midge's wing, winged.

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wing organ of flight XII; lateral part or appendage XIII; protection, care; division (right or left) of a force XIV; side scene in a theatre XVIII. First in pl. wenge(n), -es — ON. vǽngir, pl. of vǽngr wing of a bird, aisle.
Hence wing vb. use the wings XVII; wound in the wing XIX. winged (-ED2) XIV.

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a flock of plovers; a section of a political or other party; either of two divisions (right wing or left wing) on each side of an army or fleet in battle array; each of the divisions or regiments of an air force.

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wing See flight.