wheel / (h)wēl/ • n. 1. a circular object that revolves on an axle and is fixed below a vehicle or other object to enable it to move easily over the ground. ∎ a circular object that revolves on an axle and forms part of a machine. ∎ (the wheel) used in reference to the cycle of a specified condition or set of events: the final release from the wheel of life. ∎ (the wheel) hist. a large wheel used as an instrument of punishment or torture, esp. by binding someone to it and breaking their limbs: a man sentenced to be broken on the wheel. 2. a machine or structure having a wheel as its essential part. ∎ (the wheel) a steering wheel (used in reference to driving or steering a vehicle or vessel): his crew knows when he wants to take the wheel. ∎ a vessel’s propeller or paddle-wheel. ∎ a device with a revolving disk or drum used in various games of chance. ∎ a system, or a part of a system, regarded as a relentlessly moving machine: the wheels of justice. 3. (wheels) inf. a car: she's got wheels now. ∎ a bicycle. 4. a thing resembling a wheel in form or function, in particular a cheese made in the form of a disk. 5. an instance of wheeling; a turn or rotation. 6. inf. short for big wheel. • v. 1. [tr.] push or pull (a vehicle with wheels): the sea sled was wheeled out to the flight deck. ∎ [tr.] carry (someone or something) in or on a vehicle with wheels: a young woman is wheeled into the operating room. ∎ (wheel something in/on/out) inf. produce something that is unimpressive because it has been frequently seen or heard before: the old journalistic arguments have to be wheeled out. 2. [intr.] (of a bird or aircraft) fly in a wide circle or curve: the birds wheeled and dived. ∎ turn around quickly so as to face another way: Robert wheeled around to see the face of Mr. Mafouz. ∎ turn or seem to turn on an axis or pivot: the stars wheeled through the sky. PHRASES: on wheels 1. by, or traveling by, car or bicycle: a journey on wheels. ∎ (of a service) brought to one's home or district; mobile. 2. inf. used to emphasize one's distaste or dislike of the person or thing mentioned: she was a bitch on wheels. wheel and deal engage in commercial or political scheming, esp. unscrupulously: [as n.] (wheeling and dealing) the wheeling and dealing of the Wall Street boom years. the wheel of Fortune the wheel that the deity Fortune is fabled to turn as a symbol of random luck or change.wheels within wheels used to indicate that a situation is complicated and affected by secret or indirect influences.DERIVATIVES: wheeled adj. [in comb.] a four-wheeled cart.wheel·less adj. ORIGIN: Old English hwēol (noun), of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit cakra ‘wheel, circle’ and Greek kuklos ‘circle.’
wheel of Fortune the wheel which Fortune is fabled to turn, as an emblem of mutability. Also called Fortune's wheel.
wheels within wheels used to indicate that a situation is complicated and affected by secret or indirect influences; perhaps originally after the description of the vision of four creatures in Ezekiel 1:16.
See also break a butterfly on a wheel, the wheel has come full circle, fly on the wheel, oil the wheels, spin one's wheels.