American English

Definition of wheel noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    on/in vehicles
  1. 1[countable] 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. She was killed when she was crushed under the wheels of a bus.
  2. 2[countable, usually singular] 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
  3. 3wheels [plural] (informal) a car At last he had his own wheels.
  4. in machine
  5. 4[countable] a flat, round part in a machine gear wheels see also cartwheel, Ferris wheel, mill wheel, spinning wheel, waterwheel
  6. organization/system
  7. 5wheels [plural] wheel (of something) 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).
  8. -wheeler
  9. 6(in nouns) a car, bicycle, etc. with the number of wheels mentioned a three-wheeler
  10. Idioms
    a cog in the machine/wheel (informal)
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    a person who is a small part of a large organization
    grease the wheels
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    to help something to happen easily and without problems, especially in business or politics
    put your shoulder to the wheel
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    to start working very hard at a particular task Everyone is going to have to put their shoulder to the wheel.
    reinvent the wheel
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    to waste time creating something that already exists and works well There's no point in us reinventing the wheel.
    wheels within wheels
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    a situation which is difficult to understand because it involves complicated or secret processes and decisions There are wheels within wheels in this organization—you never really know what is going on.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: wheel