Language: Old English
Origin: hweogol, hweol


1 noun
wheel1 S2 W3 [countable]

on a vehicle

TT one of the round things under a car, bus, bicycle etc that turns when it moves
front/rear/back wheel
The car slid sideways, its rear wheels spinning.
on wheels
a trolley on wheels
two-wheeled/three-wheeled/four-wheeled (=having two, three etc wheels)
a three-wheeled car
two-wheeler/three-wheeler (=a bicycle with two or three wheels)

for controlling a vehicle

TT [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

in a machine

TEM a flat round part in a machine that turns round when the machine operates:
a gear wheel

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.

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.

(set of) wheels

spokenTTC a car:
Do you like my new wheels?

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

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.

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 shoulder1 (8)

; ➔ put a spoke in somebody's wheel

at spoke2 (2)

; ➔ reinvent the wheel

at reinvent (3)

Explore MECHANICAL Topic