British Library Cataloguing Data
The concise Oxford dictionary of current English.--8th ed.
1. English language--Dictionaries
I. Allen, R. E. (Robert Edward), 1944-423
ISBN 0-19-861243-5 thumb index
ISBN 0-19-861200-1 plain
WA abbr. 1 Western Australia. 2 US Washington (State) (in
official postal use).
Waac n. hist. a member of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (Brit.
1917-19 or US 1942-8). [initials WAAC]
Waaf n. Brit. hist. a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force
(1939-48). [initials WAAF]
WAC abbr. (in the US) Women's Army Corps.
wack(1) n. esp. US sl. a crazy person. [prob. back-form. f. WACKY]
wack(2) n. dial. a familiar term of address. [perh. f. wacker
wacke n. hist. a greyish-green or brownish rock resulting from the
decomposition of basaltic rock. [G f. MHG wacke large stone,
OHG wacko pebble]
wacko adj. & n. US sl. --adj. crazy. --n. (pl. -os or -oes) a
crazy person. [WACKY + -O]
wacky adj. & n. (also whacky) sl. --adj. (-ier, -iest) crazy. --n.
(pl. -ies) a crazy person. ЬЬwackily adv. wackiness n.
[orig. dial., = left-handed, f. WHACK]
wad n. & v. --n. 1 a lump or bundle of soft material used esp. to
keep things apart or in place or to stuff up an opening. 2 a
disc of felt etc. keeping powder or shot in place in a gun. 3 a
number of banknotes or documents placed together. 4 Brit. sl.
a bun, sandwich, etc. 5 (in sing. or pl.) a large quantity esp.
of money. --v.tr. (wadded, wadding) 1 stop up (an aperture or
a gun-barrel) with a wad. 2 keep (powder etc.) in place with a
wad. 3 line or stuff (a garment or coverlet) with wadding. 4
protect (a person, walls, etc.) with wadding. 5 press (cotton
etc.) into a wad or wadding. [perh. rel. to Du. watten, F
ouate padding, cotton wool]
wadding n. 1 soft pliable material of cotton or wool etc. used to line
or stuff garments, quilts, etc., or to pack fragile articles. 2
any material from which gun-wads are made.
waddle v. & n. --v.intr. walk with short steps and a swaying motion,
like a stout short-legged person or a bird with short legs set
far apart (e.g. a duck or goose). --n. a waddling gait.
ЬЬwaddler n. [perh. frequent. of WADE]
waddy n. (pl. -ies) 1 an Australian Aboriginal's war-club. 2
Austral. & NZ any club or stick. [Aboriginal, perh. f. WOOD]
wade v. & n. --v. 1 intr. walk through water or some impeding
medium e.g. snow, mud, or sand. 2 intr. make one's way with
difficulty or by force. 3 intr. (foll. by through) read (a book
etc.) in spite of its dullness etc. 4 intr. (foll. by into)
colloq. attack (a person or task) vigorously. 5 tr. ford (a
stream etc.) on foot. --n. a spell of wading. Ьwade in colloq.
make a vigorous attack or intervention. wading bird any
long-legged water-bird that wades. ЬЬwadable adj. (also
wadeable). [OE wadan f. Gmc, = go (through)]
wader n. 1 a a person who wades. b a wading bird, esp. any of
various birds of the order Charadriiformes. 2 (in pl.) high
waterproof boots, or a waterproof garment for the legs and body,
worn in fishing etc.
wadi n. (also wady) (pl. wadis or wadies) a rocky watercourse in N.
Africa etc., dry except in the rainy season. [Arab. wadi]
WAF abbr. (in the US) Women in the Air Force.
w.a.f. abbr. with all faults.
wafer n. & v. --n. 1 a very thin light crisp sweet biscuit, esp. of
a kind eaten with ice-cream. 2 a thin disc of unleavened bread
used in the Eucharist. 3 a disc of red paper stuck on a legal
document instead of a seal. 4 Electronics a very thin slice of
a semiconductor crystal used as the substrate for solid-state
circuitry. 5 hist. a small disc of dried paste formerly used
for fastening letters, holding papers together, etc. --v.tr.
fasten or seal with a wafer. Ьwafer-thin very thin. ЬЬwafery
adj. [ME f. AF wafre, ONF waufre, OF gaufre (cf. GOFFER) f.
MLG wafel waffle: cf. WAFFLE(2)]
waffle(1) n. & v. esp. Brit. colloq. --n. verbose but aimless or
ignorant talk or writing. --v.intr. indulge in waffle.
ЬЬwaffler n. waffly adj. [orig. dial., frequent. of waff =
yelp, yap (imit.)]
waffle(2) n. esp. US a small crisp batter cake. Ьwaffle-iron a utensil,
usu. of two shallow metal pans hinged together, for baking
waffles. [Du. wafel, waefel f. MLG wafel: cf. WAFER]
waft v. & n. --v.tr. & intr. convey or travel easily as through air
or over water; sweep smoothly and lightly along. --n. 1 (usu.
foll. by of) a whiff or scent. 2 a transient sensation of
peace, joy, etc. 3 (also weft) Naut. a distress signal, e.g. an
ensign rolled or knotted or a garment flown in the rigging.
[orig. 'convoy (ship etc.)', back-form. f. obs. waughter,
wafter armed convoy-ship, f. Du. or LG wachter f. wachten to
wag(1) v. & n. --v. (wagged, wagging) 1 tr. & intr. shake or wave
rapidly or energetically to and fro. 2 intr. archaic (of the
world, times, etc.) go along with varied fortune or
characteristics. --n. a single wagging motion (with a wag of
his tail). Ьthe tail wags the dog the less or least important
member of a society, section of a party, or part of a structure
has control. tongues (or beards or chins or jaws) wag there is
talk. [ME waggen f. root of OE wagian sway]
wag(2) n. 1 a facetious person, a joker. 2 Brit. sl. a truant (play
the wag). [prob. f. obs. waghalter one likely to be hanged (as
wage n. & v. --n. 1 (in sing. or pl.) a fixed regular payment, usu.
daily or weekly, made by an employer to an employee, esp. to a
manual or unskilled worker (cf. SALARY). 2 (in sing. or pl.)
requital (the wages of sin is death). 3 (in pl.) Econ. the part
of total production that rewards labour rather than remunerating
capital. --v.tr. carry on (a war, conflict, or contest).
Ьliving wage a wage that affords the means of normal
subsistence. wage-claim = pay-claim (see PAY(1)). wage-earner
a person who works for wages. wages council a board of workers'
and employers' representatives determining wages where there is
no collective bargaining. wage slave a person dependent on
income from labour in conditions like slavery. [ME f. AF & ONF
wage, OF g(u)age, f. Gmc, rel. to GAGE(1), WED]
wager n. & v.tr. & intr. = BET. Ьwager of battle hist. an ancient
form of trial by personal combat between the parties or their
champions. wager of law hist. a form of trial in which the
defendant was required to produce witnesses who would swear to
his or her innocence. [ME f. AF wageure f. wager (as WAGE)]
waggery n. (pl. -ies) 1 waggish behaviour, joking. 2 a waggish action
or remark, a joke.
waggish adj. playful, facetious. ЬЬwaggishly adv. waggishness n.
waggle v. & n. colloq. --v. 1 intr. & tr. wag. 2 intr. Golf swing
the club-head to and fro over the ball before playing a shot.
--n. a waggling motion. [WAG(1) + -LE(4)]
waggly adj. unsteady.
Wagnerian adj. & n. --adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of the
music dramas of Richard Wagner, German composer d. 1883, esp.
with reference to their large scale. --n. an admirer of Wagner
or his music.
wagon n. (also Brit. waggon) 1 a four-wheeled vehicle for heavy
loads, often with a removable tilt or cover. 2 Brit. a railway
vehicle for goods, esp. an open truck. 3 a trolley for
conveying tea etc. 4 (in full water-wagon) a vehicle for
carrying water. 5 US a light horse-drawn vehicle. 6 colloq. a
motor car, esp. an estate car. Ьon the wagon (or water-wagon)
sl. teetotal. wagon-roof (or -vault) = barrel vault. [earlier
wagon, wag(h)en, f. Du. wag(h)en, rel. to OE w‘gn WAIN]
wagoner n. (also Brit. waggoner) the driver of a wagon. [Du. wagenaar
wagonette n. (also Brit. waggonette) a four-wheeled horse-drawn pleasure
vehicle, usu. open, with facing side-seats.
wagon-lit n. (pl. wagons-lits pronunc. same) a sleeping-car on a
Continental railway. [F]
wagtail n. any small bird of the genus Motacilla with a long tail in
Wahabi n. (also Wahhabi) (pl. -is) a member of a sect of Muslim
puritans following strictly the original words of the Koran.
[Muhammad ibn Abd-el- Wahhab, founder in the 18th c.]
wahine n. NZ a woman or wife. [Maori]
wah-wah n. (also wa-wa) Mus. an effect achieved on brass instruments
by alternately applying and removing a mute and on an electric
guitar by controlling the output from the amplifier with a
waif n. 1 a homeless and helpless person, esp. an abandoned child.
2 an ownerless object or animal, a thing cast up by or drifting
in the sea or brought by an unknown agency. Ьwaifs and strays 1
homeless or neglected children. 2 odds and ends. ЬЬwaifish
adj. [ME f. AF waif, weif, ONF gaif, prob. of Scand. orig.]
wail n. & v. --n. 1 a prolonged plaintive inarticulate loud
high-pitched cry of pain, grief, etc. 2 a sound like or
suggestive of this. --v. 1 intr. utter a wail. 2 intr. lament
or complain persistently or bitterly. 3 intr. (of the wind
etc.) make a sound like a person wailing. 4 tr. poet. or rhet.
bewail; wail over. ЬWailing Wall a high wall in Jerusalem said
to stand on the site of Herod's temple, where Jews traditionally
pray and lament on Fridays. ЬЬwailer n. wailful adj. poet.
wailingly adv. [ME f. ON, rel. to WOE]
wain n. archaic 1 a wagon. 2 (prec. by the) = CHARLES'S WAIN. [OE
w‘g(e)n, w‘n, f. Gmc, rel. to WAY, WEIGH(1)]
wainscot n. & v. --n. 1 boarding or wooden panelling on the lower part
of a room-wall. 2 Brit. hist. imported oak of fine quality.
--v.tr. (wainscoted, wainscoting) line with wainscot. [ME f.
MLG wagenschot, app. f. wagen WAGON + schot of uncert. meaning]
n. 1 a wainscot. 2 material for this.
n. a wagon-builder.
waist n. 1 a the part of the human body below the ribs and above the
hips, usu. of smaller circumference than these; the narrower
middle part of the normal human figure. b the circumference of
this. 2 a similar narrow part in the middle of a violin,
hourglass, wasp, etc. 3 a the part of a garment encircling or
covering the waist. b the narrow middle part of a woman's dress
etc. c US a blouse or bodice. 4 the middle part of a ship,
between the forecastle and the quarterdeck. Ьwaist-cloth a
loincloth. waist-deep (or -high) up to the waist (waist-deep in
water). ЬЬwaisted adj. (also in comb.). waistless adj. [ME
wast, perh. f. OE f. the root of WAX(2)]
waistband n. a strip of cloth forming the waist of a garment.
waistcoat n. Brit. a close-fitting waist-length garment, without sleeves
or collar but usu. buttoned, worn usu. by men over a shirt and
under a jacket.
waistline n. the outline or the size of a person's body at the waist.
wait v. & n. --v. 1 intr. a defer action or departure for a
specified time or until some expected event occurs (wait a
minute; wait till I come; wait for a fine day). b be expectant
or on the watch (waited to see what would happen). c (foll. by
for) refrain from going so fast that (a person) is left behind
(wait for me!). 2 tr. await (an opportunity, one's turn, etc.).
3 tr. defer (a meal etc.) until a person's arrival. 4 intr.
(usu. as waiting n.) park a vehicle for a short time at the side
of a road etc. (no waiting). 5 intr. a (in full wait at or US
on table) act as a waiter or as a servant with similar
functions. b act as an attendant. 6 intr. (foll. by on, upon)
a await the convenience of. b serve as an attendant to. c pay
a respectful visit to. --n. 1 a period of waiting (had a long
wait for the train). 2 (usu. foll. by for) watching for an
enemy; ambush (lie in wait; lay wait). 3 (in pl.) Brit. a
archaic street singers of Christmas carols. b hist. official
bands of musicians maintained by a city or town. Ьcannot wait 1
is impatient. 2 needs to be dealt with immediately. can wait
need not be dealt with immediately. wait-a-bit a plant with
hooked thorns etc. that catch the clothing. wait and see await
the progress of events. wait for it! colloq. 1 do not begin
before the proper moment. 2 used to create an interval of
suspense before saying something unexpected or amusing. wait on
Austral., NZ, & N.Engl. be patient, wait. wait up (often foll.
by for) not go to bed until a person arrives or an event
happens. you wait! used to imply a threat, warning, or
promise. [ME f. ONF waitier f. Gmc, rel. to WAKE(1)]
waiter n. 1 a man who serves at table in a hotel or restaurant etc. 2
a person who waits for a time, event, or opportunity. 3 a tray
waiting n. 1 in senses of WAIT v. 2 a official attendance at court. b
one's period of this. Ьwaiting game abstention from early
action in a contest etc. so as to act more effectively later.
waiting-list a list of people waiting for a thing not
immediately available. waiting-room a room provided for people
to wait in, esp. by a doctor, dentist, etc., or at a railway or
waitress n. a woman who serves at table in a hotel or restaurant etc.
waive v.tr. refrain from insisting on or using (a right, claim,
opportunity, legitimate plea, etc.). [ME f. AF weyver, OF
gaiver allow to become a WAIF, abandon]
waiver n. Law the act or an instance of waiving. [as WAIVE]
wake(1) v. & n. --v. (past woke or waked; past part. woken or waked)
1 intr. & tr. (often foll. by up) cease or cause to cease to
sleep. 2 intr. & tr. (often foll. by up) become or cause to
become alert, attentive, or active (needs something to wake him
up). 3 intr. (archaic except as waking adj. & n.) be awake (in
her waking hours; waking or sleeping). 4 tr. disturb (silence
or a place) with noise; make re-echo. 5 tr. evoke (an echo). 6
intr. & tr. rise or raise from the dead. --n. 1 a watch beside
a corpse before burial; lamentation and (less often) merrymaking
in connection with this. 2 (usu. in pl.) an annual holiday in
(industrial) northern England. 3 hist. a a vigil commemorating
the dedication of a church. b a fair or merrymaking on this
occasion. Ьbe a wake-up (often foll. by to) Austral. sl. be
alert or aware. wake-robin 1 Brit. an arum, esp. the
cuckoo-pint. 2 US any plant of the genus Trillium. ЬЬwaker n.
[OE wacan (recorded only in past woc), wacian (weak form), rel.
to WATCH: sense 'vigil' perh. f. ON]
wake(2) n. 1 the track left on the water's surface by a moving ship. 2
turbulent air left behind a moving aircraft etc. Ьin the wake
of behind, following, as a result of, in imitation of. [prob.
f. MLG f. ON v”k hole or opening in ice]
wakeful adj. 1 unable to sleep. 2 (of a night etc.) passed with little
or no sleep. 3 vigilant. ЬЬwakefully adv. wakefulness n.
waken v.tr. & intr. make or become awake. [ON vakna f. Gmc, rel. to
Walachian var. of WALLACHIAN.
Waldenses n.pl. a puritan religious sect orig. in S. France, now chiefly
in Italy and America, founded c.1170 and much persecuted.
ЬЬWaldensian adj. & n. [med.L f. Peter Waldo of Lyons, founder]
wale n. & v. --n. 1 = WEAL(1). 2 a ridge on a woven fabric, e.g.
corduroy. 3 Naut. a broad thick timber along a ship's side. 4
a specially woven strong band round a woven basket. --v.tr.
provide or mark with wales. Ьwale-knot a knot made at the end
of a rope by intertwining strands to prevent unravelling or act
as a stopper. [OE walu stripe, ridge]
walk v. & n. --v. 1 intr. a (of a person or other biped) progress
by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, never having both
feet off the ground at once. b progress with similar movements
(walked on his hands). c go with the gait usual except when
speed is desired. d (of a quadruped) go with the slowest gait,
always having at least two feet on the ground at once. 2 intr.
a travel or go on foot. b take exercise in this way (walks for
two hours each day). 3 tr. perambulate, traverse on foot at
walking speed, tread the floor or surface of. 4 tr. a cause to
walk with one. b accompany in walking. c ride or lead (a
horse, dog, etc.) at walking pace. d take charge of (a puppy)
at walk (see sense 4 of n.). 5 intr. (of a ghost) appear. 6
intr. Cricket leave the wicket on being out. 7 Baseball a
intr. reach first base on balls. b tr. allow to do this. 8
intr. archaic live in a specified manner, conduct oneself (walk
humbly; walk with God). 9 intr. US sl. be released from
suspicion or from a charge. --n. 1 a an act of walking, the
ordinary human gait (go at a walk). b the slowest gait of an
animal. c a person's manner of walking (know him by his walk).
2 a taking a (usu. specified) time to walk a distance (is only
ten minutes' walk from here; it's quite a walk to the bus-stop).
b an excursion on foot, a stroll or constitutional (go for a
walk). c a journey on foot completed to earn money promised for
a charity etc. 3 a a place, track, or route intended or
suitable for walking; a promenade, colonnade, or footpath. b a
person's favourite place or route for walking. c the round of a
postman, hawker, etc. 4 a farm etc. where a hound-puppy is sent
to accustom it to various surroundings. 5 the place where a
gamecock is kept. 6 a part of a forest under one keeper. Ьin a
walk without effort (won in a walk). walk about stroll. walk
all over colloq. 1 defeat easily. 2 take advantage of. walk
away from 1 easily outdistance. 2 refuse to become involved
with; fail to deal with. 3 survive (an accident etc.) without
serious injury. walk away with colloq. = walk off with. walk
the boards be an actor. walk the hospitals = walk the wards.
walk in (often foll. by on) enter or arrive, esp. unexpectedly
or easily. walk into 1 colloq. encounter through unwariness
(walked into the trap). 2 sl. archaic attack forcefully. 3
sl. archaic eat heartily. walk it 1 make a journey on foot,
not ride. 2 colloq. achieve something (esp. a victory) easily.
walk Matilda see MATILDA. walk off 1 depart (esp. abruptly). 2
get rid of the effects of (a meal, ailment, etc.) by walking
(walked off his anger). walk a person off his or her feet (or
legs) exhaust a person with walking. walk off with colloq. 1
steal. 2 win easily. walk of life an occupation, profession,
or calling. walk-on 1 (in full walk-on part) = walking-on part.
2 the player of this. walk on air see AIR. walk out 1 depart
suddenly or angrily. 2 (usu. foll. by with) Brit. archaic go
for walks in courtship. walk-out n. a sudden angry departure,
esp. as a protest or strike. walk out on desert, abandon. walk
over 1 colloq. = walk all over. 2 (often absol.) traverse (a
racecourse) without needing to hurry, because one has no
opponents or only inferior ones. walk-over n. an easy victory
or achievement. walk the plank see PLANK. walk the streets 1
be a prostitute. 2 traverse the streets esp. in search of work
etc. walk tall colloq. feel justifiable pride. walk up! a
showman's invitation to a circus etc. walk-up US adj. (of a
building) allowing access to the upper floors only by stairs.
--n. a walk-up building. walk up to approach (a person) for a
talk etc. walk the wards be a medical student. ЬЬwalkable adj.
[OE wealcan roll, toss, wander, f. Gmc]
walkabout n. 1 an informal stroll among a crowd by a visiting dignitary.
2 a period of wandering in the bush by an Australian Aboriginal.
walkathon n. an organized fund-raising walk. [WALK, after MARATHON]
walker n. 1 a person or animal that walks. 2 a a wheeled or footed
framework in which a baby can learn to walk. b = walking frame.
n. a two-way radio carried on the person, esp. by policemen
walking n. & adj. in senses of WALK n. Ьwalking delegate a trade-union
official who visits members and their employers for discussions.
walking dictionary (or encyclopaedia) colloq. a person having a
wide general knowledge. walking fern any American evergreen
fern of the genus Camptosorus, with fronds that root at the
ends. walking frame a usu. tubular metal frame with rubberized
ferrules, used by disabled or old people to help them walk.
walking gentleman (or lady) Theatr. a non-speaking extra; a
supernumerary. walking leaf = walking fern. walking-on part a
non-speaking dramatic role. walking papers colloq. dismissal
(gave him his walking papers). walking-stick 1 a stick carried
when walking, esp. for extra support. 2 US = stick insect (see
STICK(1)). walking-tour a holiday journey on foot, esp. of
several days. walking wounded 1 (of soldiers etc.) able to walk
despite injuries; not bedridden. 2 colloq. a person or people
having esp. mental or emotional difficulties.
Walkman n. (pl. -mans) propr. a type of personal stereo equipment.
walkway n. a passage or path for walking along, esp.: 1 a raised
passageway connecting different sections of a building. 2 a
wide path in a garden etc.
wall n. & v. --n. 1 a a continuous and usu. vertical structure of
usu. brick or stone, having little width in proportion to its
length and height and esp. enclosing, protecting, or dividing a
space or supporting a roof. b the surface of a wall, esp.
inside a room (hung the picture on the wall). 2 anything like a
wall in appearance or effect, esp.: a the steep side of a
mountain. b a protection or obstacle (a wall of steel bayonets;
a wall of indifference). c Anat. the outermost layer or
enclosing membrane etc. of an organ, structure, etc. d the
outermost part of a hollow structure (stomach wall). e Mining
rock enclosing a lode or seam. --v.tr. 1 (esp. as walled adj.)
surround or protect with a wall (walled garden). 2 a (usu.
foll. by up, off) block or seal (a space etc.) with a wall. b
(foll. by up) enclose (a person) within a sealed space (walled
them up in the dungeon). Ьgo to the wall be defeated or pushed
aside. off the wall US sl. unorthodox, unconventional. up the
wall colloq. crazy or furious (went up the wall when he heard).
wall bar one of a set of parallel bars, attached to the wall of
a gymnasium, on which exercises are performed. wall-barley wild
barley as a weed. wall-board a type of wall-covering made from
wood pulp etc. wall cress = ARABIS. wall-fern an evergreen
polypody, Polypodium vulgare, with very large leaves.
wall-fruit fruit grown on trees trained against a wall for
protection and warmth. wall game Brit. a form of football
played at Eton. wall-knot = wale-knot. wall-painting a mural
or fresco. wall pepper a succulent stonecrop, Sedum acre, with
a pungent taste. wall-plate timber laid in or on a wall to
distribute the pressure of a girder etc. wall rocket see
ROCKET(2). wall rue a small fern, Adiantum ruta-muraria, with
leaves like rue, growing on walls and rocks. walls have ears it
is unsafe to speak openly, as there may be eavesdroppers.
wall-to-wall 1 (of a carpet) fitted to cover a whole room etc.
2 colloq. profuse, ubiquitous (wall-to-wall pop music).
ЬЬwalling n. wall-less adj. [OE f. L vallum rampart f. vallus
wallaby n. (pl. -ies) 1 any of various marsupials of the family
Macropodidae, smaller than kangaroos, and having large hind feet
and long tails. 2 (Wallabies) colloq. the Australian
international Rugby Union team. Ьon the wallaby (or wallaby
track) Austral. vagrant; unemployed. [Aboriginal wolaba]
adj. & n. (also Walachian) --adj. of the former Principality of
Wallachia, now part of Romania. --n. a native of Wallachia.
[Wallachia (as VLACH)]
wallah n. orig. Anglo-Ind., now sl. 1 a person concerned with or in
charge of a usu. specified thing, business, etc. (asked the
ticket wallah). 2 a person doing a routine administrative job;
a bureaucrat. [Hindi -wala suffix = -ER(1)]
wallaroo n. a large brownish-black kangaroo, Macropus robustus.
wallet n. 1 a small flat esp. leather case for holding banknotes etc.
2 archaic a bag for carrying food etc. on a journey, esp. as
used by a pilgrim or beggar. [ME walet, prob. f. AF walet
(unrecorded), perh. f. Gmc]
wall-eye n. 1 a an eye with a streaked or opaque white iris. b an eye
squinting outwards. 2 an American perch, Stizostedion vitreum,
with large prominent eyes. ЬЬwall-eyed adj. [back-form. f.
wall-eyed: ME f. ON vagleygr f. vagl (unrecorded: cf. Icel.
vagl film over the eye) + auga EYE]
n. 1 a a fragrant spring garden-plant, Cheiranthus cheiri, with
esp. brown, yellow, or dark-red clustered flowers. b any of
various flowering plants of the genus Cheiranthus or Erysimum,
growing wild on old walls. 2 colloq. a neglected or socially
awkward person, esp. a woman sitting out at a dance for lack of
Walloon n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a French-speaking people
inhabiting S. and E. Belgium and neighbouring France (see also
FLEMING). 2 the French dialect spoken by this people. --adj.
of or concerning the Walloons or their language. [F Wallon f.
med.L Wallo -onis f. Gmc: cf. WELSH]
wallop v. & n. sl. --v.tr. (walloped, walloping) 1 a thrash; beat.
b hit hard. 2 (as walloping adj.) big; strapping; thumping (a
walloping profit). --n. 1 a heavy blow; a thump. 2 Brit. beer
or any alcoholic drink. ЬЬwalloping n. [earlier senses
'gallop', 'boil', f. ONF (walop n. f.) waloper, OF galoper: cf.
walloper n. 1 a person or thing that wallops. 2 Austral. sl. a
wallow v. & n. --v.intr. 1 (esp. of an animal) roll about in mud,
sand, water, etc. 2 (usu. foll. by in) indulge in unrestrained
sensuality, pleasure, misery, etc. (wallows in nostalgia).
--n. 1 the act or an instance of wallowing. 2 a a place used
by buffalo etc. for wallowing. b the depression in the ground
caused by this. ЬЬwallower n. [OE walwian roll f. Gmc]
wallpaper n. & v. --n. 1 paper sold in rolls for pasting on to interior
walls as decoration. 2 an unobtrusive background, esp. (usu.
derog.) with ref. to sound, music, etc. --v.tr. (often absol.)
decorate with wallpaper.
n. the American financial world or money market. [street in
New York City where banks, the Stock Exchange, etc. are
wally n. (pl. -ies) Brit. sl. a foolish or inept person. [orig.
uncert., perh. shortened form of Walter]
walnut n. 1 any tree of the genus Juglans, having aromatic leaves and
drooping catkins. 2 the nut of this tree containing an edible
kernel in two half shells shaped like boats. 3 the timber of
the walnut-tree used in cabinet-making. [OE walh-hnutu f. Gmc
n. the eve of 1 May when witches are alleged to meet on the
Brocken mountain in Germany and hold revels with the Devil. [G
Walpurgisnacht f. Walpurgis genit. of Walpurga Engl. woman
saint (8th c.) + Nacht NIGHT]
walrus n. a large amphibious long-tusked arctic mammal, Odobenus
rosmarus, related to the seal and sea lion. Ьwalrus moustache a
long thick drooping moustache. [prob. f. Du. walrus, -ros,
perh. by metath. after walvisch 'whale-fish' f. word repr. by OE
waltz n. & v. --n. 1 a dance in triple time performed by couples who
rotate and progress round the floor. 2 the usu. flowing and
melodious music for this. --v. 1 intr. dance a waltz. 2 intr.
(often foll. by in, out, round, etc.) colloq. move lightly,
casually, with deceptive ease, etc. (waltzed in and took first
prize). 3 tr. move (a person) in or as if in a waltz, with ease
(was waltzed off to Paris). Ьwaltz Matilda see MATILDA.
ЬЬwaltzer n. [G Walzer f. walzen revolve]
wampum n. beads made from shells and strung together for use as money,
decoration, or as aids to memory by N. American Indians.
[Algonquin wampumpeag f. wap white + umpe string + -ag pl.
wan adj. 1 (of a person's complexion or appearance) pale;
exhausted; worn. 2 (of a star etc. or its light) partly
obscured; faint. 3 archaic (of night, water, etc.) dark, black.
ЬЬwanly adv. wanness n. [OE wann dark, black, of unkn. orig.]
wand n. 1 a a supposedly magic stick used in casting spells by a
fairy, magician, etc. b a stick used by a conjurer for effect.
2 a slender rod carried or used as a marker in the ground. 3 a
staff symbolizing some officials' authority. 4 colloq. a
conductor's baton. 5 a hand-held electronic device which can be
passed over a bar-code to read the data this represents. [ME
prob. f. Gmc: cf. WEND, WIND(2)]
wander v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by in, off, etc.) go about
from place to place aimlessly. 2 intr. a (of a person, river,
road, etc.) wind about; diverge; meander. b (of esp. a person)
get lost; leave home; stray from a path etc. 3 intr. talk or
think incoherently; be inattentive or delirious. 4 tr. cover
while wandering (wanders the world). --n. the act or an
instance of wandering (went for a wander round the garden).
Ьwandering Jew 1 a a legendary person said to have been
condemned by Christ to wander the earth until the second advent.
b a person who never settles down. 2 a a climbing plant,
Tradescantia albiflora, with stemless variegated leaves. b a
trailing plant, Zebrina pendula, with pink flowers. wandering
sailor the moneywort. wander-plug a plug that can be fitted
into any of various sockets in an electrical device. ЬЬwanderer
n. wandering n. (esp. in pl.). [OE wandrian (as WEND)]
n. an eagerness for travelling or wandering. [G]
wanderoo n. a langur, Semnopithecus vetulus, of Sri Lanka. [Sinh.
wane v. & n. --v.intr. 1 (of the moon) decrease in apparent size
after the full moon (cf. WAX(2)). 2 decrease in power, vigour,
importance, brilliance, size, etc.; decline. --n. 1 the
process of waning. 2 a defect of a plank etc. that lacks square
corners. Ьon the wane waning; declining. ЬЬwaney adj. (in
sense 2 of n.). [OE wanian lessen f. Gmc]
wangle v. & n. colloq. --v.tr. 1 (often refl.) to obtain (a favour
etc.) by scheming etc. (wangled himself a free trip). 2 alter
or fake (a report etc.) to appear more favourable. --n. the act
or an instance of wangling. ЬЬwangler n. [19th-c. printers'
sl.: orig. unkn.]
wank v. & n. coarse sl. °Usually considered a taboo word.
--v.intr. & tr. masturbate. --n. an act of masturbating. [20th
c.: orig. unkn.]
n. a rotary internal-combustion engine with a continuously
rotated and eccentrically pivoted nearly triangular shaft. [F.
Wankel, Ger. engineer d. 1988]
wanker n. coarse sl. °Usually considered a taboo word. 1 a
contemptible or ineffectual person. 2 a person who masturbates.
want v. & n. --v. 1 tr. a (often foll. by to + infin.) desire;
wish for possession of; need (wants a toy train; wants it done
immediately; wanted to leave; wanted him to leave). b need or
desire (a person, esp. sexually). c esp. Brit. require to be
attended to in esp. a specified way (the garden wants weeding).
d (foll. by to + infin.) colloq. ought; should; need (you want
to pull yourself together; you don't want to overdo it). 2
intr. (usu. foll. by for) lack; be deficient (wants for
nothing). 3 tr. be without or fall short by (esp. a specified
amount or thing) (the drawer wants a handle). 4 intr. (foll. by
in, out) esp. US colloq. desire to be in, out, etc. (wants in
on the deal). 5 tr. (as wanted adj.) (of a suspected criminal
etc.) sought by the police. --n. 1 (often foll. by of) a a
lack, absence, or deficiency (could not go for want of time;
shows great want of judgement). b poverty; need (living in
great want; in want of necessities). 2 a a desire for a thing
etc. (meets a long-felt want). b a thing so desired (can supply
your wants). Ьdo not want to am unwilling to. want ad US a
classified newspaper advertisement for something sought.
ЬЬwanter n. [ME f. ON vant neut. of vanr lacking = OE wana,
formed as WANE]
wanting adj. 1 lacking (in quality or quantity); deficient, not equal
to requirements (wanting in judgement; the standard is sadly
wanting). 2 absent, not supplied or provided. Ьbe found
wanting fail to meet requirements.
wanton adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 licentious; lewd; sexually
promiscuous. 2 capricious; random; arbitrary; motiveless
(wanton destruction; wanton wind). 3 luxuriant; unrestrained
(wanton profusion). 4 archaic playful; sportive (a wanton
child). --n. literary an immoral or licentious person, esp. a
woman. --v.intr. literary 1 gambol; sport; move capriciously.
2 (foll. by with) behave licentiously. ЬЬwantonly adv.
wantonness n. [ME wantowen (wan- UN-(1) + towen f. OE togen
past part. of teon discipline, rel. to TEAM)]
wapentake n. Brit. hist. (in areas of England with a large Danish
population) a division of a shire; a hundred. [OE w‘pen(ge)t‘c
f. ON v pnatak f. v pn weapon + tak taking f. taka TAKE: perh.
with ref. to voting in assembly by show of weapons]
wapiti n. (pl. wapitis) a N. American deer, Cervus canadensis. [Cree
wapitik white deer]
War. abbr. Warwickshire.
war n. & v. --n. 1 a armed hostilities between esp. nations;
conflict (war broke out; war zone). b a specific conflict or
the period of time during which such conflict exists (was before
the war). c the suspension of international law etc. during
such a conflict. 2 (as the War) a war in progress or recently
ended; the most recent major war. 3 a hostility or contention
between people, groups, etc. (war of words). b (often foll. by
on) a sustained campaign against crime, disease, poverty, etc.
--v.intr. (warred, warring) 1 (as warring adj.) a rival;
fighting (warring factions). b conflicting (warring
principles). 2 make war. Ьart of war strategy and tactics. at
war (often foll. by with) engaged in a war. go to war declare
or begin a war. go to the wars archaic serve as a soldier.
have been in the wars colloq. appear injured, bruised, unkempt,
etc. war baby a child, esp. illegitimate, born in wartime. war
bride a woman who marries a serviceman met during a war. war
chest funds for a war or any other campaign. war-cloud a
threatening international situation. war correspondent a
correspondent reporting from a scene of war. war crime a crime
violating the international laws of war. war criminal a person
committing or sentenced for such crimes. war cry 1 a phrase or
name shouted to rally one's troops. 2 a party slogan etc. war
damage damage to property etc. caused by bombing, shelling, etc.
war dance a dance performed by primitive peoples etc. before a
battle or to celebrate victory. war department the State office
in charge of the army etc. war-game 1 a military exercise
testing or improving tactical knowledge etc. 2 a battle etc.
conducted with toy soldiers. war-gaming the playing of
war-games. war grave the grave of a serviceman who died on
active service, esp. one in a special cemetery etc. war loan
stock issued by the British Government to raise funds in
wartime. war memorial a monument etc. commemorating those
killed in a war. war of attrition a war in which each side
seeks to wear out the other over a long period. war of the
elements poet. storms or natural catastrophes. War Office
hist. the British State department in charge of the army. war
of nerves an attempt to wear down an opponent by psychological
means. war-plane a military aircraft. war poet a poet writing
on war themes, esp. of the two world wars. Wars of the Roses
hist. the 15th-c. civil wars between the houses of York and
Lancaster, represented by white and red roses. war-weary (esp.
of a population) exhausted and dispirited by war. war widow a
woman whose husband has been killed in war. war-worn =
war-weary. war zone an area in which a war takes place. [ME
werre f. AF, ONF var. of OF guerre: cf. WORSE]
waratah n. an Australian crimson-flowered shrub, Telopea speciosissima.
warble(1) v. & n. --v. 1 intr. & tr. sing in a gentle trilling manner.
2 tr. a speak or utter in a warbling manner. b express in a
song or verse (warbled his love). --n. a warbled song or
utterance. [ME f. ONF werble(r) f. Frank. hwirbilon whirl,
warble(2) n. 1 a hard lump on a horse's back caused by the galling of a
saddle. 2 a the larva of a warble fly beneath the skin of
cattle etc. b a tumour produced by this. Ьwarble fly any of
various flies of the genus Hypoderma, infesting the skin of
cattle and horses. [16th c.: orig. uncert.]
warbler n. 1 a person, bird, etc. that warbles. 2 any small
insect-eating bird of the family Sylviidae or, in N. America,
Parulidae, including the blackcap, whitethroat, and chiff-chaff,
not always remarkable for their song.
ward n. & v. --n. 1 a separate room or division of a hospital,
prison, etc. (men's surgical ward). 2 a Brit. an
administrative division of a constituency, usu. electing a
councillor or councillors etc. b esp. US a similar
administrative division. 3 a a minor under the care of a
guardian appointed by the parents or a court. b (in full ward
of court) a minor or mentally deficient person placed under the
protection of a court. 4 (in pl.) the corresponding notches and
projections in a key and a lock. 5 archaic a the act of
guarding or defending a place etc. b the bailey of a castle. c
a guardian's control; confinement; custody. --v.tr. archaic
guard; protect. Ьward-heeler US a party worker in elections
etc. ward off 1 parry (a blow). 2 avert (danger, poverty,
etc.). [OE weard, weardian f. Gmc: cf. GUARD]
-ward suffix (also -wards) added to nouns of place or destination and
to adverbs of direction and forming: 1 adverbs (usu. -wards)
meaning 'towards the place etc.' (moving backwards; set off
homewards). 2 adjectives (usu. -ward) meaning 'turned or
tending towards' (a downward look; an onward rush). 3 (less
commonly) nouns meaning 'the region towards or about' (look to
the eastward). [from or after OE - weard f. a Gmc root meaning
warden n. 1 (usu. in comb.) a supervising official (churchwarden;
traffic warden). 2 a Brit. a president or governor of a
college, school, hospital, youth hostel, etc. b esp. US a
prison governor. ЬЬwardenship n. [ME f. AF & ONF wardein var.
of OF g(u)arden GUARDIAN]
warder n. 1 Brit. (fem. wardress) a prison officer. 2 a guard. [ME
f. AF wardere, -our f. ONF warder, OF garder to GUARD]
wardrobe n. 1 a large movable or built-in cupboard with rails, shelves,
hooks, etc., for storing clothes. 2 a person's entire stock of
clothes. 3 the costume department or costumes of a theatre, a
film company, etc. 4 a department of a royal household in
charge of clothing. Ьwardrobe mistress (or master) a person in
charge of a theatrical or film wardrobe. wardrobe trunk a trunk
fitted with rails, shelves, etc. for use as a travelling
wardrobe. [ME f. ONF warderobe, OF garderobe (as GUARD, ROBE)]
wardroom n. a room in a warship for the use of commissioned officers.
-wards var. of -WARD.
wardship n. 1 a guardian's care or tutelage (under his wardship). 2 the
condition of being a ward.
ware(1) n. 1 (esp. in comb.) things of the same kind, esp. ceramics,
made usu. for sale (chinaware; hardware). 2 (usu. in pl.) a
articles for sale (displayed his wares). b a person's skills,
talents, etc. 3 ceramics etc. of a specified material, factory,
or kind (Wedgwood ware; Delft ware). [OE waru f. Gmc, perh.
orig. = 'object of care', rel. to WARE(3)]
ware(2) v.tr. (also 'ware) (esp. in hunting) look out for; avoid (usu.
in imper.: ware hounds!). [OE warian f. Gmc (as WARE(3)), & f.
ware(3) predic.adj. poet. aware. [OE w‘r f. Gmc: cf. WARD]
warehouse n. & v. --n. 1 a building in which esp. retail goods are
stored; a repository. 2 esp. Brit. a wholesale or large retail
store. --v.tr. also store (esp. furniture or bonded goods)
temporarily in a repository. ЬЬwarehouseman n. (pl. -men).
warfare n. a state of war; campaigning, engaging in war (chemical
warfarin n. a water-soluble anticoagulant used esp. as a rat poison.
[Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation + -arin, after COUMARIN]
warhead n. the explosive head of a missile, torpedo, or similar weapon.
warhorse n. 1 hist. a knight's or trooper's powerful horse. 2 colloq. a
veteran soldier, politician, etc.; a reliable hack.
warlike adj. 1 threatening war; hostile. 2 martial; soldierly. 3 of
or for war; military (warlike preparations).
warlock n. archaic a sorcerer or wizard. [OE w‘r-loga traitor f. w‘r
covenant: loga rel. to LIE(2)]
warlord n. a military commander or commander-in-chief.
warm adj., v., & n. --adj. 1 of or at a fairly or comfortably high
temperature. 2 (of clothes etc.) affording warmth (needs warm
gloves). 3 a (of a person, action, feelings, etc.) sympathetic;
cordial; friendly; loving (a warm welcome; has a warm heart). b
enthusiastic; hearty (was warm in her praise). 4 animated,
heated, excited; indignant (the dispute grew warm). 5 colloq.
iron. dangerous, difficult, or hostile (met a warm reception).
6 colloq. a (of a participant in esp. a children's game of
seeking) close to the object etc. sought. b near to guessing or
finding out a secret. 7 (of a colour, light, etc.) reddish,
pink, or yellowish, etc., suggestive of warmth. 8 Hunting (of a
scent) fresh and strong. 9 a (of a person's temperament)
amorous; sexually demanding. b erotic; arousing. --v. 1 tr.
a make warm (fire warms the room). b excite; make cheerful
(warms the heart). 2 intr. a (often foll. by up) warm oneself
at a fire etc. (warmed himself up). b (often foll. by to)
become animated, enthusiastic, or sympathetic (warmed to his
subject). --n. 1 the act of warming; the state of being warmed
(gave it a warm; had a nice warm by the fire). 2 the warmth of
the atmosphere etc. 3 Brit. archaic a warm garment, esp. an
army greatcoat. Ьwarmed-up (US -over) 1 (of food etc.) reheated
or stale. 2 stale; second-hand. warm front an advancing mass
of warm air. warming-pan hist. a usu. brass container for live
coals with a flat body and a long handle, used for warming a
bed. warm up 1 (of an athlete, performer, etc.) prepare for a
contest, performance, etc. by practising. 2 (of a room etc.)
become warmer. 3 (of a person) become enthusiastic etc. 4 (of
a radio, engine, etc.) reach a temperature for efficient
working. 5 reheat (food). warm-up n. a period of preparatory
exercise for a contest or performance. warm work 1 work etc.
that makes one warm through exertion. 2 dangerous conflict etc.
ЬЬwarmer n. (also in comb.). warmish adj. warmly adv.
warmness n. warmth n. [OE wearm f. Gmc]
adj. 1 (of an organism) having warm blood; mammalian (see
HOMOEOTHERM). 2 ardent, passionate. ЬЬwarm-bloodedness n.
adj. having a warm heart; kind, friendly. ЬЬwarm-heartedly
adv. warm-heartedness n.
warmonger n. a person who seeks to bring about or promote war.
ЬЬwarmongering n. & adj.
warn v.tr. 1 (also absol.) a (often foll. by of, or that + clause,
or to + infin.) inform of danger, unknown circumstances, etc.
(warned them of the danger; warned her that she was being
watched; warned him to expect a visit). b (often foll. by
against) inform (a person etc.) about a specific danger, hostile
person, etc. (warned her against trusting him). 2 (usu. with
neg.) admonish; tell forcefully (has been warned not to go). 3
give (a person) cautionary notice regarding conduct etc. (shall
not warn you again). Ьwarn off 1 tell (a person) to keep away
(from). 2 prohibit from attending races, esp. at a specified
course. ЬЬwarner n. [OE war(e)nian, wearnian ult. f. Gmc: cf.
warning n. 1 in senses of WARN v. 2 anything that serves to warn; a
hint or indication of difficulty, danger, etc. 3 archaic =
NOTICE n. 3b. Ьwarning coloration Biol. conspicuous colouring
that warns a predator etc. against attacking. ЬЬwarningly adv.
[OE war(e)nung etc. (as WARN, -ING(1))]
warp v. & n. --v. 1 tr. & intr. a make or become bent or twisted
out of shape, esp. by the action of heat, damp, etc. b make or
become perverted, bitter, or strange (a warped sense of humour).
2 a tr. haul (a ship) by a rope attached to a fixed point. b
intr. progress in this way. 3 tr. fertilize by flooding with
warp. 4 tr. (foll. by up) choke (a channel) with an alluvial
deposit etc. 5 tr. arrange (threads) as a warp. --n. 1 a a
state of being warped, esp. of shrunken or expanded timber. b
perversion, bitterness, etc. of the mind or character. 2 the
threads stretched lengthwise in a loom to be crossed by the
weft. 3 a rope used in towing or warping, or attached to a
trawl-net. 4 sediment etc. left esp. on poor land by standing
water. ЬЬwarpage n. (esp. in sense 1a of v.). warper n. (in
sense 5 of v.). [OE weorpan throw, wearp f. Gmc]
warpaint n. 1 paint used to adorn the body before battle, esp. by N.
American Indians. 2 colloq. elaborate make-up.
warpath n. 1 a warlike expedition of N. American Indians. 2 colloq.
any hostile course or attitude (is on the warpath again).
warragal var. of WARRIGAL.
warrant n. & v. --n. 1 a anything that authorizes a person or an
action (have no warrant for this). b a person so authorizing (I
will be your warrant). 2 a a written authorization, money
voucher, travel document, etc. (a dividend warrant). b a
written authorization allowing police to search premises, arrest
a suspect, etc. 3 a document authorizing counsel to represent
the principal in a lawsuit (warrant of attorney). 4 a
certificate of service rank held by a warrant-officer. --v.tr.
1 serve as a warrant for; justify (nothing can warrant his
behaviour). 2 guarantee or attest to esp. the genuineness of an
article, the worth of a person, etc. ЬI (or I'll) warrant I am
certain; no doubt (he'll be sorry, I'll warrant).
warrant-officer an officer ranking between commissioned officers
and NCOs. ЬЬwarranter n. warrantor n. [ME f. ONF warant, var.
of OF guarant, -and f. Frank. werend (unrecorded) f. giweren
be surety for]
adj. 1 able to be warranted. 2 (of a stag) old enough to be
hunted (5 or 6 years). ЬЬwarrantableness n. warrantably adv.
warrantee n. a person to whom a warranty is given.
warranty n. (pl. -ies) 1 an undertaking as to the ownership or quality
of a thing sold, hired, etc., often accepting responsibility for
defects or liability for repairs needed over a specified period.
2 (usu. foll. by for + verbal noun) an authority or
justification. 3 an undertaking by an insured person of the
truth of a statement or fulfilment of a condition. [ME f. AF
warantie, var. of garantie (as WARRANT)]
warren n. 1 a a network of interconnecting rabbit burrows. b a piece
of ground occupied by this. 2 a densely populated or
labyrinthine building or district. 3 hist. a piece of ground on
which game is preserved. [ME f. AF & ONF warenne, OF garenne
game-park f. Gmc]
warrigal n. & adj. (also warragal) Austral. --n. 1 a dingo dog. 2 an
untamed horse. 3 a wild Aboriginal. --adj. wild, untamed.
warring adj. rival, antagonistic.
warrior n. 1 a person experienced or distinguished in fighting. 2 a
fighting man, esp. of primitive peoples. 3 (attrib.) martial (a
warrior nation). [ME f. ONF werreior etc., OF guerreior etc. f.
werreier, guerreier make WAR]
warship n. an armoured ship used in war.
wart n. 1 a small hardish roundish growth on the skin caused by a
virus-induced abnormal growth of papillae and thickening of the
epidermis. 2 a protuberance on the skin of an animal, surface
of a plant, etc. 3 colloq. an objectionable person. Ьwart-hog
an African wild pig of the genus Phacochoerus, with a large head
and warty lumps on its face, and large curved tusks. warts and
all colloq. with no attempt to conceal blemishes or
inadequacies. ЬЬwarty adj. [OE wearte f. Gmc]
wartime n. the period during which a war is waged.
wary adj. (warier, wariest) 1 on one's guard; given to caution;
circumspect. 2 (foll. by of) cautious, suspicious (am wary of
using lifts). 3 showing or done with caution or suspicion (a
wary expression). ЬЬwarily adv. wariness n. [WARE(2) + -Y(1)]
was 1st & 3rd sing. past of BE.
Wash. abbr. Washington.
wash v. & n. --v. 1 tr. cleanse (oneself or a part of oneself,
clothes, etc.) with liquid, esp. water. 2 tr. (foll. by out,
off, away, etc.) remove a stain or dirt in this way. 3 intr.
wash oneself or esp. one's hands and face. 4 intr. wash clothes
etc. 5 intr. (of fabric or dye) bear washing without damage. 6
intr. (foll. by off, out) (of a stain etc.) be removed by
washing. 7 tr. poet. moisten, water (tear-washed eyes; a rose
washed with dew). 8 tr. (of a river, sea, etc.) touch (a
country, coast, etc.) with its waters. 9 tr. (of moving liquid)
carry along in a specified direction (a wave washed him
overboard; was washed up on the shore). 10 tr. a scoop out
(the water had washed a channel). b erode, denude (sea-washed
cliffs). 11 intr. (foll. by over, along, etc.) sweep, move, or
splash. 12 tr. sift (ore) by the action of water. 13 tr. a
brush a thin coat of watery paint or ink over (paper in
water-colour painting etc., or a wall). b (foll. by with) coat
(inferior metal) with gold etc. --n. 1 a the act or an
instance of washing; the process of being washed (give them a
good wash; only needed one wash). b (prec. by the) treatment at
a laundry etc. (sent them to the wash). 2 a quantity of clothes
for washing or just washed. 3 the visible or audible motion of
agitated water or air, esp. due to the passage of a ship etc. or
aircraft. 4 a soil swept off by water; alluvium. b a sandbank
exposed only at low tide. 5 kitchen slops and scraps given to
pigs. 6 a thin, weak, or inferior liquid food. b liquid food
for animals. 7 a liquid to spread over a surface to cleanse,
heal, or colour. 8 a thin coating of water-colour,
wall-colouring, or metal. 9 malt etc. fermenting before
distillation. 10 a lotion or cosmetic. Ьcome out in the wash
colloq. be clarified, or (of contingent difficulties) be
resolved or removed, in the course of time. wash-and-wear adj.
(of a fabric or garment) easily and quickly laundered.
wash-basin a basin for washing one's hands, face, etc. wash
one's dirty linen in public see LINEN. wash down 1 wash
completely (esp. a large surface or object). 2 (usu. foll. by
with) accompany or follow (food) with a drink. washed out 1
faded by washing. 2 pale. 3 colloq. limp, enfeebled. washed
up esp. US sl. defeated, having failed. wash one's hands
euphem. go to the lavatory. wash one's hands of renounce
responsibility for. wash-hand stand = WASHSTAND. wash-house a
building where clothes are washed. wash-leather chamois or
similar leather for washing windows etc. wash out 1 clean the
inside of (a thing) by washing. 2 clean (a garment etc.) by
brief washing. 3 a rain off (an event etc.). b colloq. cancel.
4 (of a flood, downpour, etc.) make a breach in (a road etc.).
wash-out n. 1 colloq. a fiasco; a complete failure. 2 a breach
in a road, railway track, etc., caused by flooding (see also
WASHOUT). wash up 1 tr. (also absol.) esp. Brit. wash
(crockery and cutlery) after use. 2 US wash one's face and
hands. won't wash esp. Brit. colloq. (of an argument etc.)
will not be believed or accepted. [OE w‘scan etc. f. Gmc, rel.
washable adj. that can be washed, esp. without damage. ЬЬwashability n.
washboard n. 1 a board of ribbed wood or a sheet of corrugated zinc on
which clothes are scrubbed in washing. 2 this used as a
percussion instrument, played with the fingers.
washday n. a day on which clothes etc. are washed.
washer n. 1 a a person or thing that washes. b a washing-machine. 2
a flat ring of rubber, metal, leather, etc., inserted at a joint
to tighten it and prevent leakage. 3 a similar ring placed
under the head of a screw, bolt, etc., or under a nut, to
disperse its pressure. 4 Austral. a cloth for washing the face.
Ьwasher-up (pl. washers-up) a person who washes up dishes etc.
n. (pl. -women) a woman whose occupation is washing clothes; a
n. = LAUNDERETTE.
washing n. a quantity of clothes for washing or just washed.
Ьwashing-machine a machine for washing clothes and linen etc.
washing-powder powder of soap or detergent for washing clothes.
washing-soda sodium carbonate, used dissolved in water for
washing and cleaning. washing-up Brit. 1 the process of
washing dishes etc. after use. 2 used dishes etc. for washing.
washland n. land periodically flooded by a stream.
washout n. Geol. a narrow river-channel that cuts into pre-existing
sediments (see also wash-out).
washroom n. US a room with washing and toilet facilities.
washstand n. a piece of furniture to hold a basin, jug, soap, etc.
washtub n. a tub or vessel for washing clothes etc.
washy adj. (washier, washiest) 1 (of liquid food) too watery or weak;
insipid. 2 (of colour) faded-looking, thin, faint. 3 (of a
style, sentiment, etc.) lacking vigour or intensity. ЬЬwashily
adv. washiness n.
wasn't contr. was not.
Wasp n. (also WASP) US usu. derog. a middle-class American White
Protestant descended from early European settlers. ЬЬWaspy adj.
(also WASPy). [White Anglo- Saxon Protestant]
wasp n. 1 a stinging often flesh-eating insect of the order
Hymenoptera, esp. the common social wasp Vespa vulgaris, with
black and yellow stripes and a very thin waist. 2 (in comb.)
any of various insects resembling a wasp in some way
(wasp-beetle). Ьwasp-waist a very slender waist. wasp-waisted
having a very slender waist. ЬЬwasplike adj. [OE w‘fs, w‘ps,
w‘sp, f. WG: perh. rel. to WEAVE(1) (from the weblike form of
waspish adj. irritable, petulant; sharp in retort. ЬЬwaspishly adv.
wassail n. & v. archaic --n. 1 a festive occasion; a drinking-bout. 2
a kind of liquor drunk on such an occasion. --v.intr. make
merry; celebrate with drinking etc. Ьwassail-bowl (or -cup) a
bowl or cup from which healths were drunk, esp. on Christmas Eve
and Twelfth Night. ЬЬwassailer n. [ME w‘s h‘il etc. f. ON ves
heill, corresp. to OE wes hal 'be in health', a form of
salutation: cf. HALE(1)]
n. a test for syphilis using the reaction of the patient's
blood serum. [A. von Wassermann, Ger. pathologist d. 1925]
wast archaic or dial. 2nd sing. past of BE.
wastage n. 1 an amount wasted. 2 loss by use, wear, or leakage. 3
Commerce loss of employees other than by redundancy.
waste v., adj., & n. --v. 1 tr. use to no purpose or for inadequate
result or extravagantly (waste time). 2 tr. fail to use (esp.
an opportunity). 3 tr. (often foll. by on) give (advice etc.),
utter (words etc.), without effect. 4 tr. & intr. wear
gradually away; make or become weak; wither. 5 tr. ravage,
devastate. 6 tr. treat as wasted or valueless. 7 intr. be
expended without useful effect. --adj. 1 superfluous; no
longer serving a purpose. 2 (of a district etc.) not inhabited
or cultivated; desolate (waste ground). 3 presenting no
features of interest. --n. 1 the act or an instance of
wasting; extravagant or ineffectual use of an asset, of time,
etc. 2 waste material or food; refuse; useless remains or
by-products. 3 a waste region; a desert etc. 4 the state of
being used up; diminution by wear and tear. 5 Law damage to an
estate caused by an act or by neglect, esp. by a life-tenant. 6
= waste pipe. Ьgo (or run) to waste be wasted. lay waste
ravage, devastate. waste-basket esp. US = waste-paper basket.
waste one's breath see BREATH. waste not, want not extravagance
leads to poverty. waste paper spoiled or valueless paper.
waste-paper basket esp. Brit. a receptacle for waste paper.
waste pipe a pipe to carry off waste material, e.g. from a sink.
waste products useless by-products of manufacture or of an
organism or organisms. waste words see WORD. ЬЬwastable adj.
wasteless adj. [ME f. ONF wast(e), var. of OF g(u)ast(e), f. L
wasteful adj. 1 extravagant. 2 causing or showing waste. ЬЬwastefully
adj. wastefulness n.
wasteland n. 1 an unproductive or useless area of land. 2 a place or
time considered spiritually or intellectually barren.
waster n. 1 a wasteful person. 2 colloq. a wastrel.
wastrel n. 1 a wasteful or good-for-nothing person. 2 a waif; a
watch v. & n. --v. 1 tr. keep the eyes fixed on; look at
attentively. 2 tr. a keep under observation; follow
observantly. b monitor or consider carefully; pay attention to
(have to watch my weight; watched their progress with interest).
3 intr. (often foll. by for) be in an alert state; be vigilant;
take heed (watch for the holes in the road; watch for an
opportunity). 4 intr. (foll. by over) look after; take care of.
5 intr. archaic remain awake for devotions etc. --n. 1 a
small portable timepiece for carrying on one's person. 2 a
state of alert or constant observation or attention. 3 Naut. a
a four-hour spell of duty. b (in full starboard or port watch)
each of the halves, divided according to the position of the
bunks, into which a ship's crew is divided to take alternate
watches. 4 hist. a watchman or group of watchmen, esp.
patrolling the streets at night. 5 a former division of the
night. 6 a period of wakefulness at night. 7 hist. irregular
Highland troops in the 18th c. Ьon the watch waiting for an
expected or feared occurrence. set the watch Naut. station
sentinels etc. watch-case the outer metal case enclosing the
works of a watch. watch-chain a metal chain for securing a
pocket-watch. Watch Committee hist. (in the UK) the committee
of a county borough council dealing with policing etc.
watch-glass 1 a glass disc covering the dial of a watch. 2 a
similar disc used in a laboratory etc. to hold material for use
in experiments. watching brief see BRIEF. watch it (or
oneself) colloq. be careful. watch-night 1 the last night of
the year. 2 a religious service held on this night. watch out
1 (often foll. by for) be on one's guard. 2 as a warning of
immediate danger. watch-spring the mainspring of a watch.
watch one's step proceed cautiously. watch-strap esp. Brit. a
strap for fastening a watch on the wrist. watch-tower a tower
from which observation can be kept. ЬЬwatchable adj. watcher
n. (also in comb.). [OE w‘cce (n.), rel. to WAKE(1)]
watchband n. US = watch-strap.
watchdog n. & v. --n. 1 a dog kept to guard property etc. 2 a person
or body monitoring others' rights, behaviour, etc. --v.tr.
(-dogged, -dogging) maintain surveillance over.
watchful adj. 1 accustomed to watching. 2 on the watch. 3 showing
vigilance. 4 archaic wakeful. ЬЬwatchfully adv. watchfulness
n. a person who makes and repairs watches and clocks.
watchman n. (pl. -men) 1 a man employed to look after an empty building
etc. at night. 2 archaic or hist. a member of a night-watch.
watchword n. 1 a phrase summarizing a guiding principle; a slogan. 2
hist. a military password.
water n. & v. --n. 1 a colourless transparent odourless tasteless
liquid compound of oxygen and hydrogen. °Chem. formula: HO.
2 a liquid consisting chiefly of this and found in seas, lakes,
and rivers, in rain, and in secretions of organisms. 3 an
expanse of water; a sea, lake, river, etc. 4 (in pl.) part of a
sea or river (in Icelandic waters). 5 (often as the waters)
mineral water at a spa etc. 6 the state of a tide (high water).
7 a solution of a specified substance in water (lavender-water).
8 the quality of the transparency and brilliance of a gem, esp.
a diamond. 9 Finance an amount of nominal capital added by
watering (see sense 10 of v.). 10 (attrib.) a found in or near
water. b of, for, or worked by water. c involving, using, or
yielding water. --v. 1 tr. sprinkle or soak with water. 2 tr.
supply (a plant) with water. 3 tr. give water to (an animal) to
drink. 4 intr. (of the mouth or eyes) secrete water as saliva
or tears. 5 tr. (as watered adj.) (of silk etc.) having
irregular wavy glossy markings. 6 tr. adulterate (milk, beer,
etc.) with water. 7 tr. (of a river etc.) supply (a place) with
water. 8 intr. (of an animal) go to a pool etc. to drink. 9
intr. (of a ship, engine, etc., or the person in charge of it)
take in a supply of water. 10 tr. Finance increase (a
company's debt, or nominal capital) by the issue of new shares
without a corresponding addition to assets. Ьby water using a
ship etc. for travel or transport. cast one's bread upon the
waters see BREAD. like water lavishly, profusely. like water
off a duck's back see DUCK(1). make one's mouth water cause
one's saliva to flow, stimulate one's appetite or anticipation.
of the first water 1 (of a diamond) of the greatest brilliance
and transparency. 2 of the finest quality or extreme degree.
on the water on a ship etc. on the water-wagon see WAGON.
water-bag a bag of leather, canvas, etc., for holding water.
water bailiff 1 an official enforcing fishing laws. 2 hist. a
custom-house officer at a port. water bear = TARDIGRADE n.
water-bed a mattress of rubber or plastic etc. filled with
water. water-biscuit a thin crisp unsweetened biscuit made from
flour and water. water blister a blister containing a
colourless fluid, not blood or pus. water-boatman any aquatic
bug of the family Notonectidae or Corixidae, swimming with
oarlike hind legs. water-borne 1 (of goods etc.) conveyed by or
travelling on water. 2 (of a disease) communicated or
propagated by contaminated water. water-buck any of various
African antelopes of the genus Kobus, frequenting river-banks.
water-buffalo the common domestic Indian buffalo, Bubalus arnee.
water bus a boat carrying passengers on a regular run on a
river, lake, etc. water-butt a barrel used to catch rainwater.
water-cannon a device giving a powerful jet of water to disperse
a crowd etc. the Water-carrier (or -bearer) the zodiacal sign
or constellation Aquarius. water chestnut 1 an aquatic plant,
Trapa natans, bearing an edible seed. 2 a (in full Chinese
water chestnut) a sedge, Eleocharis tuberosa, with rushlike
leaves arising from a corm. b this corm used as food.
water-clock a clock measuring time by the flow of water.
water-closet 1 a lavatory with the means for flushing the pan
with water. 2 a room containing this. water-colour (US -color)
1 artists' paint made of pigment to be diluted with water and
not oil. 2 a picture painted with this. 3 the art of painting
with water-colours. water-colourist (US -colorist) a painter in
water-colours. water-cooled cooled by the circulation of water.
water-cooler a tank of cooled drinking-water. water cure =
HYDROPATHY. water-diviner Brit. a person who dowses (see
DOWSE(1)) for water. water down 1 dilute with water. 2 make
less vivid, forceful, or horrifying. water gauge 1 a glass tube
etc. indicating the height of water in a reservoir, boiler, etc.
2 pressure expressed in terms of a head of water. water-glass 1
a solution of sodium or potassium silicate used for preserving
eggs, as a vehicle for fresco-painting, and for hardening
artificial stone. 2 a tube with a glass bottom enabling objects
under water to be observed. water-hammer a knocking noise in a
water-pipe when a tap is suddenly turned off. water-heater a
device for heating (esp. domestic) water. water hemlock a
poisonous plant, Cicuta maculata, found in marshes etc.: also
called COWBANE. water-hole a shallow depression in which water
collects (esp. in the bed of a river otherwise dry). water
hyacinth a tropical river-weed, Eichhornia crassipes. water-ice
a confection of flavoured and frozen water and sugar etc.; a
sorbet. water jump a place where a horse in a steeplechase etc.
must jump over water. water-level 1 a the surface of the water
in a reservoir etc. b the height of this. 2 a level below
which the ground is saturated with water. 3 a level using water
to determine the horizontal. water lily any aquatic plant of
the family Nymphaeaceae, with broad flat floating leaves and
large usu. cup-shaped floating flowers. water-line 1 the line
along which the surface of water touches a ship's side (marked
on a ship for use in loading). 2 a linear watermark. water
main the main pipe in a water-supply system. water-meadow a
meadow periodically flooded by a stream. water melon a large
smooth green melon, Citrullus lanatus, with red pulp and watery
juice. water meter a device for measuring and recording the
amount of water supplied to a house etc. water-mill a mill
worked by a water-wheel. water-nymph a nymph regarded as
inhabiting or presiding over water. water of crystallization
water forming an essential part of the structure of some
crystals. water of life rhet. spiritual enlightenment. water
ouzel = DIPPER 1. water-pepper an aquatic herb, Polygonum
hydropiper: also called SMARTWEED. water-pipe 1 a pipe for
conveying water. 2 a hookah. water-pistol a toy pistol
shooting a jet of water. water plantain any ditch-plant of the
genus Alisma, with plantain-like leaves. water polo a game
played by swimmers, with a ball like a football. water-power 1
mechanical force derived from the weight or motion of water. 2
a fall in the level of a river, as a source of this force.
water purslane a creeping plant, Lythrum portula, growing in
damp places. water rail a wading bird, Rallus aquaticus,
frequenting marshes etc. water-rat = water-vole. water-rate a
charge made for the use of the public water-supply.
water-repellent not easily penetrated by water. water-scorpion
any aquatic bug of the family Nepidae, living submerged and
breathing through a bristle-like tubular tail. water-softener
an apparatus or substance for softening hard water.
water-soluble soluble in water. water-splash part of a road
submerged by a stream or pool. water starwort any plant of the
genus Callitriche, growing in water. water-supply the provision
and storage of water, or the amount of water stored, for the use
of a town, house, etc. water-table = water-level 2. water
torture a form of torture in which the victim is exposed to the
incessant dripping of water on the head, or the sound of
dripping. water-tower a tower with an elevated tank to give
pressure for distributing water. water under the bridge past
events accepted as past and irrevocable. water-vole an aquatic
vole, esp. Arvicola amphibius. water-weed any of various
aquatic plants. water-wheel a wheel driven by water to work
machinery, or to raise water. water-wings inflated floats fixed
on the arms of a person learning to swim. ЬЬwaterer n.
waterless adj. [OE w‘ter f. Gmc, rel. to WET]
n. pyrosis. [WATER + BRASH(3)]
n. 1 a brook, stream, or artificial water-channel. 2 the bed
along which this flows.
n. a hardy perennial cress, Nasturtium officinale, growing in
running water, with pungent leaves used in salad.
waterfall n. a stream or river flowing over a precipice or down a steep
n. a clear colourless flint glass. [Waterford in Ireland]
waterfowl n. (usu. collect. as pl.) birds frequenting water, esp.
n. the part of a town adjoining a river, lake, harbour, etc.
watergate n. 1 a floodgate. 2 a gate giving access to a river etc.
watering n. the act or an instance of supplying water or (of an animal)
obtaining water. Ьwatering-can a portable container with a long
spout usu. ending in a perforated sprinkler, for watering
plants. watering-hole 1 a pool of water from which animals
regularly drink; = water-hole. 2 sl. a bar. watering-place 1 =
watering-hole. 2 a spa or seaside resort. 3 a place where
water is obtained. [OE w‘terung (as WATER, -ING(1))]
adj. 1 saturated with water. 2 (of a boat etc.) hardly able to
float from being saturated or filled with water. 3 (of ground)
made useless by being saturated with water. [waterlog (v.), f.
WATER + LOG(1), prob. orig. = 'reduce (a ship) to the condition
of a log']
Waterloo n. a decisive defeat or contest (meet one's Waterloo).
[Waterloo in Belgium, where Napoleon was finally defeated in
waterman n. (pl. -men) 1 a boatman plying for hire. 2 an oarsman as
regards skill in keeping the boat balanced.
watermark n. & v. --n. a faint design made in some paper during
manufacture, visible when held against the light, identifying
the maker etc. --v.tr. mark with this.
adj., n., & v. --adj. impervious to water. --n. a waterproof
garment or material. --v.tr. make waterproof.
watershed n. 1 a line of separation between waters flowing to different
rivers, basins, or seas. 2 a turning-point in affairs. [WATER
+ shed ridge of high ground (rel. to SHED(2)), after G
waterside n. the margin of a sea, lake, or river.
water-ski n. & v. --n. (pl. -skis) each of a pair of skis for skimming
the surface of the water when towed by a motor boat. --v.intr.
(-skis, -ski'd or -skied; -skiing) travel on water-skis.
n. a gyrating column of water and spray formed by a whirlwind
between sea and cloud.
adj. 1 (of a joint, container, vessel, etc.) closely fastened
or fitted or made so as to prevent the passage of water. 2 (of
an argument etc.) unassailable.
waterway n. 1 a navigable channel. 2 a route for travel by water. 3 a
thick plank at the outer edge of a deck along which a channel is
hollowed for water to run off by.
n. 1 an establishment for managing a water-supply. 2 colloq.
the shedding of tears. 3 Brit. colloq. the urinary system.
watery adj. 1 containing too much water. 2 too thin in consistency.
3 of or consisting of water. 4 (of the eyes) suffused or
running with water. 5 (of conversation, style, etc.) vapid,
uninteresting. 6 (of colour) pale. 7 (of the sun, moon, or
sky) rainy-looking. Ьwatery grave the bottom of the sea as a
place where a person lies drowned. ЬЬwateriness n. [OE w‘terig
(as WATER, -Y(1))]
watt n. the SI unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second,
corresponding to the rate of energy in an electric circuit where
the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere.
°Symb.: W. Ьwatt-hour the energy used when one watt is applied
for one hour. [J. Watt, Sc. engineer d. 1819]
wattage n. an amount of electrical power expressed in watts.
wattle(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a interlaced rods and split rods as a material
for making fences, walls, etc. b (in sing. or pl.) rods and
twigs for this use. 2 an Australian acacia with long pliant
branches, with bark used in tanning and golden flowers used as
the national emblem. 3 dial. a wicker hurdle. --v.tr. 1 make
of wattle. 2 enclose or fill up with wattles. Ьwattle and daub
a network of rods and twigs plastered with mud or clay as a
building material. [OE watul, of unkn. orig.]
wattle(2) n. 1 a loose fleshy appendage on the head or throat of a turkey
or other birds. 2 = BARB n. 3. ЬЬwattled adj. [16th c.:
wattmeter n. a meter for measuring the amount of electricity in watts.
waul v.intr. (also wawl) give a loud plaintive cry like a cat.
wave v. & n. --v. 1 a intr. (often foll. by to) move a hand etc. to
and fro in greeting or as a signal (waved to me across the
street). b tr. move (a hand etc.) in this way. 2 a intr. show
a sinuous or sweeping motion as of a flag, tree, or a cornfield
in the wind; flutter, undulate. b tr. impart a waving motion
to. 3 tr. brandish (a sword etc.) as an encouragement to
followers etc. 4 tr. tell or direct (a person) by waving (waved
them away; waved them to follow). 5 tr. express (a greeting
etc.) by waving (waved goodbye to them). 6 tr. give an
undulating form to (hair, drawn lines, etc.); make wavy. 7
intr. (of hair etc.) have such a form; be wavy. --n. 1 a ridge
of water between two depressions. 2 a long body of water
curling into an arched form and breaking on the shore. 3 a
thing compared to this, e.g. a body of persons in one of
successive advancing groups. 4 a gesture of waving. 5 a the
process of waving the hair. b an undulating form produced in
the hair by waving. 6 a a temporary occurrence or increase of a
condition, emotion, or influence (a wave of enthusiasm). b a
specified period of widespread weather (heat wave). 7 Physics a
the disturbance of the particles of a fluid medium to form
ridges and troughs for the propagation or direction of motion,
heat, light, sound, etc., without the advance of the particles.
b a single curve in the course of this motion (see also standing
wave, travelling wave (see TRAVEL)). 8 Electr. a similar
variation of an electromagnetic field in the propagation of
radiation through a medium or vacuum. 9 (in pl.; prec. by the)
poet. the sea; water. Ьmake waves colloq. cause trouble. wave
aside dismiss as intrusive or irrelevant. wave down wave to (a
vehicle or its driver) as a signal to stop. wave equation a
differential equation expressing the properties of motion in
waves. wave-form Physics a curve showing the shape of a wave at
a given time. wave-front Physics a surface containing points
affected in the same way by a wave at a given time. wave
function a function satisfying a wave equation and describing
the properties of a wave. wave mechanics a method of analysis
of the behaviour esp. of atomic phenomena with particles
represented by wave equations (see quantum mechanics). wave
number Physics the number of waves in a unit distance. wave
theory hist. the theory that light is propagated through the
ether by a wave-motion imparted to the ether by the molecular
vibrations of the radiant body. ЬЬwaveless adj. wavelike adj.
& adv. [OE wafian (v.) f. Gmc: (n.) also alt. of ME wawe, wage]
waveband n. a range of (esp. radio) wavelengths between certain limits.
waveguide n. Electr. a metal tube etc. confining and conveying
n. 1 the distance between successive crests of a wave, esp.
points in a sound wave or electromagnetic wave. 2 this as a
distinctive feature of radio waves from a transmitter. 3
colloq. a particular mode or range of thinking and communicating
(we don't seem to be on the same wavelength).
wavelet n. a small wave on water.
waver v.intr. 1 be or become unsteady; falter; begin to give way. 2
be irresolute or undecided between different courses or
opinions; be shaken in resolution or belief. 3 (of a light)
flicker. ЬЬwaverer n. waveringly adv. [ME f. ON vafra flicker
f. Gmc, rel. to WAVE]
wavy adj. (wavier, waviest) (of a line or surface) having waves or
alternate contrary curves (wavy hair). ЬЬwavily adv. waviness
wa-wa var. of WAH-WAH.
wawl var. of WAUL.
wax(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a sticky plastic yellowish substance secreted
by bees as the material of honeycomb cells; beeswax. 2 a white
translucent material obtained from this by bleaching and
purifying and used for candles, in modelling, as a basis of
polishes, and for other purposes. 3 any similar substance, e.g.
earwax. 4 colloq. a a gramophone record. b material for the
manufacture of this. 5 (attrib.) made of wax. --v.tr. 1 cover
or treat with wax. 2 colloq. record for the gramophone. Ьbe
wax in a person's hands be entirely subservient to a person.
lost wax = CIRE PERDUE. wax-light a taper or candle of wax.
wax-myrtle a tree, Myrtus cerifera, yielding wax and oil used
for candles. wax-painting = ENCAUSTIC. wax palm 1 a South
American palm, Ceroxylon alpinum, with its stem coated in a
mixture of resin and wax. 2 a carnauba. wax paper paper
waterproofed with a layer of wax. wax-pod a yellow-podded bean.
wax-tree an Asian tree, Rhus succedanea, having white berries
which yield wax. ЬЬwaxer n. [OE w‘x, weax f. Gmc]
wax(2) v.intr. 1 (of the moon between new and full) have a
progressively larger part of its visible surface illuminated,
increasing in apparent size. 2 become larger or stronger. 3
pass into a specified state or mood (wax lyrical). Ьwax and
wane undergo alternate increases and decreases. [OE weaxan f.
wax(3) n. sl. a fit of anger. [19th c.: orig. uncert.: perh. f.
WAX(2) wroth etc.]
waxberry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a wax-myrtle. 2 the fruit of this.
waxbill n. any of various birds esp. of the family Estrildidae, with
usu. red bills resembling the colour of sealing wax.
waxcloth n. oilcloth.
waxen adj. 1 having a smooth pale translucent surface as of wax. 2
able to receive impressions like wax; plastic. 3 archaic made
waxwing n. any bird of the genus Bombycilla, with small tips like red
sealing-wax to some wing-feathers.
waxwork n. 1 a an object, esp. a lifelike dummy, modelled in wax. b
the making of waxworks. 2 (in pl.) an exhibition of wax
waxy(1) adj. (waxier, waxiest) resembling wax in consistency or in its
surface. ЬЬwaxily adv. waxiness n. [WAX(1) + -Y(1)]
way n. & adv. --n. 1 a road, track, path, etc., for passing along.
2 a course or route for reaching a place, esp. the best one
(asked the way to London). 3 a place of passage into a
building, through a door, etc. (could not find the way out). 4
a a method or plan for attaining an object (that is not the way
to do it). b the ability to obtain one's object (has a way with
him). 5 a a person's desired or chosen course of action. b a
custom or manner of behaving; a personal peculiarity (has a way
of forgetting things; things had a way of going badly). 6 a
specific manner of life or procedure (soon got into the way of
it). 7 the normal course of events (that is always the way). 8
a travelling distance; a length traversed or to be traversed (is
a long way away). 9 a an unimpeded opportunity of advance. b a
space free of obstacles. 10 a region or ground over which
advance is desired or natural. 11 advance in some direction;
impetus, progress (pushed my way through). 12 movement of a
ship etc. (gather way; lose way). 13 the state of being engaged
in movement from place to place; time spent in this (met them on
the way home; with songs to cheer the way). 14 a specified
direction (step this way; which way are you going?). 15 (in
pl.) parts into which a thing is divided (split it three ways).
16 colloq. the scope or range of something (want a few things in
the stationery way). 17 a person's line of occupation or
business. 18 a specified condition or state (things are in a
bad way). 19 a respect (is useful in some ways). 20 a (in pl.)
a structure of timber etc. down which a new ship is launched. b
parallel rails etc. as a track for the movement of a machine.
--adv. colloq. to a considerable extent; far (you're way off
the mark). Ьacross (or over) the way opposite. any way =
ANYWAY. be on one's way set off; depart. by the way 1
incidentally; as a more or less irrelevant comment. 2 during a
journey. by way of 1 through; by means of. 2 as a substitute
for or as a form of (did it by way of apology). 3 with the
intention of (asked by way of discovering the truth). come
one's way become available to one; become one's lot. find a way
discover a means of obtaining one's object. get (or have) one's
way (or have it one's own way etc.) get what one wants; ensure
one's wishes are met. give way 1 a make concessions. b fail to
resist; yield. 2 (often foll. by to) concede precedence (to).
3 (of a structure etc.) be dislodged or broken under a load;
collapse. 4 (foll. by to) be superseded by. 5 (foll. by to) be
overcome by (an emotion etc.). 6 (of rowers) row hard. go out
of one's way (often foll. by to + infin.) make a special
effort; act gratuitously or without compulsion (went out of
their way to help). go one's own way act independently, esp.
against contrary advice. go one's way 1 leave, depart. 2 (of
events, circumstances, etc.) be favourable to one. go a
person's way accompany a person (are you going my way?). have
it both ways see BOTH. in its way if regarded from a particular
standpoint appropriate to it. in no way not at all; by no
means. in a way in a certain respect but not altogether or
completely. in the (or one's) way forming an obstacle or
hindrance. lead the way 1 act as guide or leader. 2 show how
to do something. look the other way 1 ignore what one should
notice. 2 disregard an acquaintance etc. whom one sees. one
way and another taking various considerations into account. one
way or another by some means. on the (or one's) way 1 in the
course of a journey etc. 2 having progressed (is well on the
way to completion). 3 colloq. (of a child) conceived but not
yet born. on the way out colloq. going down in status,
estimation, or favour; going out of fashion. the other way
about (or round) in an inverted or reversed position or
direction. out of the way 1 no longer an obstacle or hindrance.
2 disposed of; settled. 3 (of a person) imprisoned or killed.
4 (with neg.) common or unremarkable (nothing out of the way).
5 (of a place) remote, inaccessible. out of one's way not on
one's intended route. put a person in the way of give a person
the opportunity of. way back colloq. long ago. way-leave a
right of way rented to another. the way of the Cross a series
of paintings or representations of the events in Christ's
passion, esp. in a church. way of life the principles or habits
governing all one's actions etc. way of thinking one's
customary opinion of matters. way of the world conduct no worse
than is customary. way-out colloq. 1 unusual, eccentric. 2
avant-garde, progressive. 3 excellent, exciting. ways and
means 1 methods of achieving something. 2 methods of raising
government revenue. way station US 1 a minor station on a
railway. 2 a point marking progress in a certain course of
action etc. way-worn tired with travel. [OE weg f. Gmc: (adv.)
-way suffix = -WAYS.
waybill n. a list of passengers or parcels on a vehicle.
waybread n. Brit. archaic a broad-leaved plantain (see PLANTAIN(1)).
[OE wegbr‘de (as WAY, BROAD)]
wayfarer n. a traveller, esp. on foot.
wayfaring n. travelling, esp. on foot. Ьwayfaring-tree a white-flowered
European and Asian shrub, Viburnum lantana, common along
roadsides, with berries turning from green through red to black.
waylay v.tr. (past and past part. waylaid) 1 lie in wait for. 2 stop
to rob or interview. ЬЬwaylayer n.
waymark n. a natural or artificial object as a guide to travellers,
-ways suffix forming adjectives and adverbs of direction or manner
(sideways) (cf. -WISE). [WAY + -'S]
wayside n. 1 the side or margin of a road. 2 the land at the side of a
road. Ьfall by the wayside fail to continue in an endeavour or
undertaking (after Luke 8:5).
wayward adj. 1 childishly self-willed or perverse; capricious. 2
unaccountable or freakish. ЬЬwaywardly adv. waywardness n.
[ME f. obs. awayward turned away f. AWAY + -WARD: cf.
wayzgoose n. (pl. -gooses) an annual summer dinner or outing held by a
printing-house for its employees. [17th c. (earlier waygoose):
we pron. (obj. us; poss. our, ours) 1 (pl. of I(2)) used by and
with reference to more than one person speaking or writing, or
one such person and one or more associated persons. 2 used for
or by a royal person in a proclamation etc. and by a writer or
editor in a formal context. 3 people in general (cf. ONE pron.
2). 4 colloq. = I(2) (give us a chance). 5 colloq. (often
implying condescension) you (how are we feeling today?). [OE f.
WEA abbr. (in the UK) Workers' Educational Association.
weak adj. 1 deficient in strength, power, or number; fragile; easily
broken or bent or defeated. 2 deficient in vigour; sickly,
feeble (weak health; a weak imagination). 3 a deficient in
resolution; easily led (a weak character). b (of an action or
features) indicating a lack of resolution (a weak surrender; a
weak chin). 4 unconvincing or logically deficient (weak
evidence; a weak argument). 5 (of a mixed liquid or solution)
watery, thin, dilute (weak tea). 6 (of a style etc.) not
vigorous or well-knit; diffuse, slipshod. 7 (of a crew)
short-handed. 8 (of a syllable etc.) unstressed. 9 Gram. in
Germanic languages: a (of a verb) forming inflections by the
addition of a suffix to the stem. b (of a noun or adjective)
belonging to a declension in which the stem originally ended in
-n (opp. STRONG adj. 22). Ьweak ending an unstressed syllable
in a normally stressed place at the end of a verse-line. the
weaker sex derog. women. weak grade Gram. an unstressed
ablaut-form. weak interaction Physics the weakest form of
interaction between elementary particles. weak-kneed colloq.
lacking resolution. weak-minded 1 mentally deficient. 2
lacking in resolution. weak-mindedness the state of being
weak-minded. weak moment a time when one is unusually compliant
or temptable. weak point (or spot) 1 a place where defences are
assailable. 2 a flaw in an argument or character or in
resistance to temptation. ЬЬweakish adj. [ME f. ON veikr f.
weaken v.tr. & intr. make or become weak or weaker. ЬЬweakener n.
weakfish n. (pl. same or -fishes) US a marine fish of the genus
Cynoscion, used as food. [obs. Du. weekvisch f. week soft
(formed as WEAK) + visch FISH(1)]
weakling n. a feeble person or animal.
weakly adv. & adj. --adv. in a weak manner. --adj. (weaklier,
weakliest) sickly, not robust. ЬЬweakliness n.
weakness n. 1 the state or condition of being weak. 2 a weak point; a
defect. 3 the inability to resist a particular temptation. 4
(foll. by for) a self-indulgent liking (have a weakness for
weal(1) n. & v. --n. a ridge raised on the flesh by a stroke of a rod
or whip. --v.tr. mark with a weal. [var. of WALE, infl. by
obs. wheal suppurate]
weal(2) n. literary welfare, prosperity; good fortune. [OE wela f. WG
Weald n. (also weald) (prec. by the) Brit. a formerly wooded
district including parts of Kent, Surrey, and East Sussex.
Ьweald-clay beds of clay, sandstone, limestone, and ironstone,
forming the top of Wealden strata, with abundant fossil remains.
[OE, = wald WOLD]
Wealden adj. & n. Brit. --adj. 1 of the Weald. 2 resembling the
Weald geologically. --n. a series of Lower Cretaceous
freshwater deposits above Jurassic strata and below chalk, best
exemplified in the Weald.
wealth n. 1 riches; abundant possessions; opulence. 2 the state of
being rich. 3 (foll. by of) an abundance or profusion (a wealth
of new material). 4 archaic welfare or prosperity. Ьwealth tax
a tax on personal capital. [ME welthe, f. WELL(1) or WEAL(2) +
-TH(2), after health]
wealthy adj. (wealthier, wealthiest) having an abundance esp. of money.
ЬЬwealthily adv. wealthiness n.
wean(1) v.tr. 1 accustom (an infant or other young mammal) to food
other than (esp. its mother's) milk. 2 (often foll. by from,
away from) disengage (from a habit etc.) by enforced
discontinuance. [OE wenian accustom f. Gmc: cf. WONT]
wean(2) n. Sc. a young child. [contr. of wee ane little one]
weaner n. a young animal recently weaned.
weanling n. a newly-weaned child etc.
weapon n. 1 a thing designed or used or usable for inflicting bodily
harm (e.g. a gun or cosh). 2 a means employed for trying to
gain the advantage in a conflict (irony is a double-edged
weapon). ЬЬweaponed adj. (also in comb.). weaponless adj. [OE
w‘p(e)n f. Gmc]
weaponry n. weapons collectively.
wear(1) v. & n. --v. (past wore; past part. worn) 1 tr. have on one's
person as clothing or an ornament etc. (is wearing shorts; wears
earrings). 2 tr. be dressed habitually in (wears green). 3 tr.
exhibit or present (a facial expression or appearance) (wore a
frown; the day wore a different aspect). 4 tr. Brit. colloq.
(usu. with neg.) tolerate, accept (they won't wear that excuse).
5 (often foll. by away) a tr. injure the surface of, or partly
obliterate or alter, by rubbing, stress, or use. b intr.
undergo such injury or change. 6 tr. & intr. (foll. by off,
away) rub or be rubbed off. 7 tr. make (a hole etc.) by
constant rubbing or dripping etc. 8 tr. & intr. (often foll. by
out) exhaust, tire or be tired. 9 tr. (foll. by down) overcome
by persistence. 10 intr. a remain for a specified time in
working order or a presentable state; last long. b (foll. by
well, badly, etc.) endure continued use or life. 11 a intr. (of
time) pass, esp. tediously. b tr. pass (time) gradually away.
12 tr. (of a ship) fly (a flag). --n. 1 the act of wearing or
the state of being worn (suitable for informal wear). 2 things
worn; fashionable or suitable clothing (sportswear; footwear).
3 (in full wear and tear) damage sustained from continuous use.
4 the capacity for resisting wear and tear (still a great deal
of wear left in it). Ьin wear being regularly worn. wear one's
heart on one's sleeve see HEART. wear off lose effectiveness or
intensity. wear out 1 use or be used until no longer usable. 2
tire or be tired out. wear thin (of patience, excuses, etc.)
begin to fail. wear the trousers see TROUSERS. wear (or wear
one's years) well colloq. remain young-looking. ЬЬwearable
adj. wearability n. wearer n. wearingly adv. [OE werian f.
wear(2) v. (past and past part. wore) 1 tr. bring (a ship) about by
turning its head away from the wind. 2 intr. (of a ship) come
about in this way (cf. TACK(1) v. 4). [17th c.: orig. unkn.]
wearisome adj. tedious; tiring by monotony or length. ЬЬwearisomely adv.
weary adj. & v. --adj. (wearier, weariest) 1 unequal to or
disinclined for further exertion or endurance; tired. 2 (foll.
by of) dismayed at the continuing of; impatient of. 3 tiring or
tedious. --v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. & intr. make or grow weary.
2 intr. esp. Sc. long. ЬЬweariless adj. wearily adv.
weariness n. wearyingly adv. [OE werig, w‘rig f. WG]
weasel n. & v. --n. 1 a small reddish-brown flesh-eating mammal,
Mustela nivalis, with a slender body, related to the stoat and
ferret. 2 a stoat. 3 colloq. a deceitful or treacherous
person. --v.intr. (weaselled, weaselling; US weaseled,
weaseling) 1 esp. US equivocate or quibble. 2 (foll. by on,
out) default on an obligation. Ьweasel-faced having thin sharp
features. weasel word (usu. in pl.) a word that is
intentionally ambiguous or misleading. ЬЬweaselly adj. [OE
wesle, wesule f. WG]
weather n. & v. --n. 1 the state of the atmosphere at a place and time
as regards heat, cloudiness, dryness, sunshine, wind, and rain
etc. 2 (attrib.) Naut. windward (on the weather side). --v. 1
tr. expose to or affect by atmospheric changes, esp.
deliberately to dry, season, etc. (weathered timber). 2 a tr.
(usu. in passive) discolour or partly disintegrate (rock or
stones) by exposure to air. b intr. be discoloured or worn in
this way. 3 tr. make (boards or tiles) overlap downwards to
keep out rain etc. 4 tr. a come safely through (a storm). b
survive (a difficult period etc.). 5 tr. (of a ship or its
crew) get to the windward of (a cape etc.). Ьkeep a (or one's)
weather eye open be watchful. make good (or bad) weather of it
Naut. (of a ship) behave well (or badly) in a storm. make
heavy weather of colloq. exaggerate the difficulty or burden
presented by (a problem, course of action, etc.). under the
weather colloq. indisposed or out of sorts. weather-beaten
affected by exposure to the weather. weather-bound unable to
proceed owing to bad weather. weather-chart (or -map) a diagram
showing the state of the weather over a large area. weather
forecast an analysis of the state of the weather with an
assessment of likely developments over a certain time.
weather-glass a barometer. weather side the side from which the
wind is blowing (opp. lee side). weather station an
observation post for recording meteorological data.
weather-strip a piece of material used to make a door or window
proof against rain or wind. weather-tiles tiles arranged to
overlap like weatherboards. weather-vane see VANE.
weather-worn damaged by storms etc. [OE weder f. Gmc]
n. & v. --n. 1 a sloping board attached to the bottom of an
outside door to keep out the rain etc. 2 each of a series of
horizontal boards with edges overlapping to keep out the rain
etc. --v.tr. fit or supply with weatherboards.
ЬЬweatherboarding n. (in sense 2 of n.).
n. 1 a weather-vane (see VANE) in the form of a cock. 2 an
n. 1 the action of the weather on materials etc. exposed to it.
2 exposure to adverse weather conditions (see WEATHER v. 1).
weatherly adj. Naut. 1 (of a ship) making little leeway. 2 capable of
keeping close to the wind. ЬЬweatherliness n.
n. (pl. -men) a meteorologist, esp. one who broadcasts a
adj. & v. --adj. resistant to the effects of bad weather, esp.
rain. --v.tr. make weatherproof. ЬЬweatherproofed adj.
weave(1) v. & n. --v. (past wove; past part. woven or wove) 1 tr. a
form (fabric) by interlacing long threads in two directions. b
form (thread) into fabric in this way. 2 intr. a make fabric
in this way. b work at a loom. 3 tr. make (a basket or wreath
etc.) by interlacing rods or flowers etc. 4 tr. a (foll. by
into) make (facts etc.) into a story or connected whole. b make
(a story) in this way. --n. a style of weaving. [OE wefan f.
weave(2) v.intr. 1 move repeatedly from side to side; take an intricate
course to avoid obstructions. 2 colloq. manoeuvre an aircraft
in this way; take evasive action. Ьget weaving sl. begin
action; hurry. [prob. f. ME weve, var. of waive f. ON veifa
weaver n. 1 a person whose occupation is weaving. 2 (in full
weaver-bird) any tropical bird of the family Ploceidae, building
elaborately woven nests. Ьweaver's knot a sheet bend (see
SHEET(2)) used in weaving.
web n. & v. --n. 1 a a woven fabric. b an amount woven in one
piece. 2 a complete structure or connected series (a web of
lies). 3 a cobweb, gossamer, or a similar product of a spinning
creature. 4 a a membrane between the toes of a swimming animal
or bird. b the vane of a bird's feather. 5 a a large roll of
paper used in a continuous printing process. b an endless wire
mesh on rollers, on which this is made. 6 a thin flat part
connecting thicker or more solid parts in machinery etc. --v.
(webbed, webbing) 1 tr. weave a web on. 2 intr. weave a web.
Ьweb-footed having the toes connected by webs. web offset
offset printing on a web of paper. web-wheel a wheel having a
plate or web instead of spokes, or with rim, spokes, and centre
in one piece as in watch-wheels. web-worm US a gregarious
caterpillar spinning a large web in which to sleep or to feed on
enclosed foliage. ЬЬwebbed adj. [OE web, webb f. Gmc]
webbing n. strong narrow closely-woven fabric used for supporting
upholstery, for belts, etc.
weber n. the SI unit of magnetic flux, causing the electromotive
force of one volt in a circuit of one turn when generated or
removed in one second. °Abbr.: Wb. [W. E. Weber, Ger.
physicist d. 1891]
Wed. abbr. Wednesday.
wed v.tr. & intr. (wedding; past and past part. wedded or wed) 1
usu. formal or literary a tr. & intr. marry. b tr. join in
marriage. 2 tr. unite (wed efficiency to economy). 3 tr. (as
wedded adj.) of or in marriage (wedded bliss). 4 tr. (as wedded
adj.) (foll. by to) obstinately attached or devoted (to a
pursuit etc.). [OE weddian to pledge f. Gmc]
we'd contr. 1 we had. 2 we should; we would.
wedding n. a marriage ceremony (considered by itself or with the
associated celebrations). Ьwedding breakfast a meal etc.
usually served between a wedding and the departure for the
honeymoon. wedding cake a rich iced cake served at a wedding
reception. wedding day the day or anniversary of a wedding.
wedding march a march played at the entrance of the bride or the
exit of the couple at a wedding. wedding night the night after
a wedding (esp. with ref. to its consummation). wedding ring a
ring worn by a married person. [OE weddung (as WED, -ING(1))]
wedge(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a piece of wood or metal etc. tapering to a
sharp edge, that is driven between two objects or parts of an
object to secure or separate them. 2 anything resembling a
wedge (a wedge of cheese; troops formed a wedge). 3 a golf club
with a wedge-shaped head. 4 a a wedge-shaped heel. b a shoe
with this. --v.tr. 1 tighten, secure, or fasten by means of a
wedge (wedged the door open). 2 force open or apart with a
wedge. 3 (foll. by in, into) pack or thrust (a thing or
oneself) tightly in or into. Ьthin end of the wedge colloq. an
action or procedure of little importance in itself, but likely
to lead to more serious developments. wedge-shaped 1 shaped
like a solid wedge. 2 V-shaped. ЬЬwedgelike adj. wedgewise
adv. [OE wecg f. Gmc]
wedge(2) v.tr. Pottery prepare (clay) for use by cutting, kneading, and
throwing down. [17th c.: orig. uncert.]
wedgie n. colloq. a shoe with an extended wedge-shaped heel.
Wedgwood n. propr. 1 ceramic ware made by J. Wedgwood, Engl. potter d.
1795, and his successors, esp. a kind of fine stoneware usu.
with a white cameo design. 2 the characteristic blue colour of
wedlock n. the married state. Ьborn in (or out of) wedlock born of
married (or unmarried) parents. [OE wedlac marriage vow f. wed
pledge (rel. to WED) + -lac suffix denoting action]
Wednesday n. & adv. --n. the fourth day of the week, following Tuesday.
--adv. colloq. 1 on Wednesday. 2 (Wednesdays) on Wednesdays;
each Wednesday. [ME wednesdei, OE wodnesd‘g day of (the god)
Weds. abbr. Wednesday.
wee(1) adj. (weer; weest) 1 esp. Sc. little; very small. 2 colloq.
tiny; extremely small (a wee bit). [orig. Sc. noun, f. north.ME
wei (small) quantity f. Anglian weg: cf. WEY]
wee(2) n. esp. Brit. sl. = WEE-WEE.
weed n. & v. --n. 1 a wild plant growing where it is not wanted. 2
a thin weak-looking person or horse. 3 (prec. by the) sl. a
marijuana. b tobacco. --v. 1 tr. a clear (an area) of weeds.
b remove unwanted parts from. 2 tr. (foll. by out) a sort out
(inferior or unwanted parts etc.) for removal. b rid (a
quantity or company) of inferior or unwanted members etc. 3
intr. cut off or uproot weeds. Ьweed-grown overgrown with
weeds. weed-killer a substance used to destroy weeds. ЬЬweeder
n. weedless adj. [OE weod, of unkn. orig.]
weeds n.pl. (in full widow's weeds) archaic deep mourning worn by a
widow. [OE w‘d(e) garment f. Gmc]
weedy adj. (weedier, weediest) 1 having many weeds. 2 (esp. of a
person) weak, feeble; of poor stature. ЬЬweediness n.
week n. 1 a period of seven days reckoned usu. from and to midnight
on Saturday-Sunday. 2 a period of seven days reckoned from any
point (would like to stay for a week). 3 the six days between
Sundays. 4 a the five days Monday to Friday. b a normal amount
of work done in this period (a 35-hour week). 5 (in pl.) a long
time; several weeks (have not seen you for weeks; did it weeks
ago). 6 (prec. by a specified day) a week after (that day)
(Tuesday week; tomorrow week). [OE wice f. Gmc, prob. orig. =
weekday n. a day other than Sunday or other than at a weekend (often
attrib.: a weekday afternoon).
weekend n. & v. --n. 1 Sunday and Saturday or part of Saturday. 2
this period extended slightly esp. for a holiday or visit etc.
(going away for the weekend; a weekend cottage). --v.intr.
spend a weekend (decided to weekend in the country).
weekender n. 1 a person who spends weekends away from home. 2 Austral.
colloq. a holiday cottage.
weeklong adj. lasting for a week.
weekly adj., adv., & n. --adj. done, produced, or occurring once a
week. --adv. once a week; from week to week. --n. (pl. -ies)
a weekly newspaper or periodical.
ween v.tr. archaic be of the opinion; think, suppose. [OE wenan f.
weeny adj. (weenier, weeniest) colloq. tiny. Ьweeny-bopper a girl
like a teeny-bopper but younger. [WEE(1) after tiny, teeny]
weep v. & n. --v. (past and past part. wept) 1 intr. shed tears.
2 a tr. & (foll. by for) intr. shed tears for; bewail, lament
over. b tr. utter or express with tears ('Don't go,' he wept;
wept her thanks). 3 a intr. be covered with or send forth
drops. b intr. & tr. come or send forth in drops; exude liquid
(weeping sore). 4 intr. (as weeping adj.) (of a tree) having
drooping branches (weeping willow). --n. a fit or spell of
weeping. Ьweep out utter with tears. ЬЬweepingly adv. [OE
wepan f. Gmc (prob. imit.)]
weeper n. 1 a person who weeps, esp. hist. a hired mourner at a
funeral. 2 a small image of a mourner on a monument. 3 (in
pl.) hist. a a man's crape hatband for funerals. b a widow's
black crape veil or white cuffs.
weepie n. (also weepy) (pl. -ies) colloq. a sentimental or emotional
film, play, etc.
weepy adj. (weepier, weepiest) colloq. inclined to weep; tearful.
ЬЬweepily adv. weepiness n.
weever n. any marine fish of the genus Trachinus, with sharp venomous
dorsal spines. [perh. f. OF wivre, guivre, serpent, dragon, f.
L vipera VIPER]
weevil n. 1 any destructive beetle of the family Curculionidae, with
its head extended into a beak or rostrum and feeding esp. on
grain. 2 any insect damaging stored grain. ЬЬweevily adj. [ME
f. MLG wevel f. Gmc]
wee-wee n. & v. esp. Brit. sl. --n. 1 the act or an instance of
urinating. 2 urine. --v.intr. (-wees, -weed) urinate. [20th
c.: orig. unkn.]
w.e.f. abbr. with effect from.
weft(1) n. 1 a the threads woven across a warp to make fabric. b yarn
for these. c a thing woven. 2 filling-strips in
basket-weaving. [OE weft(a) f. Gmc: rel. to WEAVE(1)]
weft(2) var. of WAFT n. 3.
Wehrmacht n. hist. the German armed forces, esp. the army, from 1921 to
1945. [G, = defensive force]
weigh(1) v. 1 tr. find the weight of. 2 tr. balance in the hands to
guess or as if to guess the weight of. 3 tr. (often foll. by
out) a take a definite weight of; take a specified weight from a
larger quantity. b distribute in exact amounts by weight. 4
tr. a estimate the relative value, importance, or desirability
of; consider with a view to choice, rejection, or preference
(weighed the consequences; weighed the merits of the
candidates). b (foll. by with, against) compare (one
consideration with another). 5 tr. be equal to (a specified
weight) (weighs three kilos; weighs very little). 6 intr. a
have (esp. a specified) importance; exert an influence. b
(foll. by with) be regarded as important by (the point that
weighs with me). 7 intr. (often foll. by on) be heavy or
burdensome (to); be depressing (to). Ьweigh anchor see ANCHOR.
weigh down 1 bring or keep down by exerting weight. 2 be
oppressive or burdensome to (weighed down with worries). weigh
in (of a boxer before a contest, or a jockey after a race) be
weighed. weigh-in n. the weighing of a boxer before a fight.
weighing-machine a machine for weighing persons or large
weights. weigh into colloq. attack (physically or verbally).
weigh in with colloq. advance (an argument etc.) assertively or
boldly. weigh out (of a jockey) be weighed before a race.
weigh up colloq. form an estimate of; consider carefully.
weigh one's words carefully choose the way one expresses
something. ЬЬweighable adj. weigher n. [OE wegan f. Gmc, rel.
weigh(2) n. Ьunder weigh disp. = under way. [18th c.: from an erron.
assoc. with weigh anchor]
n. a weighing-machine for vehicles, usu. having a plate set
into the road for vehicles to drive on to.
weight n. & v. --n. 1 Physics a the force experienced by a body as a
result of the earth's gravitation (cf. MASS(1) n. 8). b any
similar force with which a body tends to a centre of attraction.
2 the heaviness of a body regarded as a property of it; its
relative mass or the quantity of matter contained by it giving
rise to a downward force (is twice your weight; kept in position
by its weight). 3 a the quantitative expression of a body's
weight (has a weight of three pounds). b a scale of such
weights (troy weight). 4 a body of a known weight for use in
weighing. 5 a heavy body esp. used in a mechanism etc. (a clock
worked by weights). 6 a load or burden (a weight off my mind).
7 a influence, importance (carried weight with the public). b
preponderance (the weight of evidence was against them). 8 a
heavy object thrown as an athletic exercise; = SHOT(1) 7. 9 the
surface density of cloth etc. as a measure of its suitability.
--v.tr. 1 a attach a weight to. b hold down with a weight or
weights. 2 (foll. by with) impede or burden. 3 Statistics
multiply the components of (an average) by factors to take
account of their importance. 4 assign a handicap weight to (a
horse). 5 treat (a fabric) with a mineral etc. to make it seem
stouter. Ьput on weight 1 increase one's weight. 2 get fat.
throw one's weight about (or around) colloq. be unpleasantly
self-assertive. worth one's weight in gold (of a person)
exceedingly useful or helpful. [OE (ge)wiht f. Gmc: cf.
weighting n. an extra allowance paid in special cases, esp. to allow for
a higher cost of living (London weighting).
adj. (of a body, esp. in an orbiting spacecraft etc.) not
apparently acted on by gravity. ЬЬweightlessly adv.
n. the sport or exercise of lifting a heavy weight, esp. a
barbell. ЬЬweightlifter n.
n. a usu. grey dog of a variety of pointer used as a gun dog.
[G, f. Weimar in Germany, where it was developed]
weir n. 1 a dam built across a river to raise the level of water
upstream or regulate its flow. 2 an enclosure of stakes etc.
set in a stream as a trap for fish. [OE wer f. werian dam up]
weird adj. & n. --adj. 1 uncanny, supernatural. 2 colloq. strange,
queer, incomprehensible. 3 archaic connected with fate. --n.
esp. Sc. archaic fate, destiny. Ьthe weird sisters 1 the
Fates. 2 witches. ЬЬweirdly adv. weirdness n. [(earlier as
noun) f. OE wyrd destiny f. Gmc]
weirdie n. (also weirdy) (pl. -ies) colloq. = WEIRDO.
weirdo n. (pl. -os) colloq. an odd or eccentric person.
n. the theory of heredity assuming continuity of germ-plasm and
non-transmission of acquired characteristics. [A. Weismann,
Ger. biologist d. 1914]
weka n. any flightless New Zealand rail of the genus Gallirallus.
[Maori: imit. of its cry]
Welch var. of WELSH (now only in Royal Welch Fusiliers).
welch var. of WELSH.
welcome n., int., v., & adj. --n. the act or an instance of greeting or
receiving (a person, idea, etc.) gladly; a kind or glad
reception (gave them a warm welcome). --int. expressing such a
greeting (welcome!; welcome home!). --v.tr. receive with a
welcome (welcomed them home; would welcome the opportunity).
--adj. 1 that one receives with pleasure (a welcome guest;
welcome news). 2 (foll. by to, or to + infin.) a cordially
allowed or invited; released of obligation (you are welcome to
use my car). b iron. gladly given (an unwelcome task, thing,
etc.) (here's my work and you are welcome to it). Ьmake welcome
receive hospitably. outstay one's welcome stay too long as a
visitor etc. you are welcome there is no need for thanks.
ЬЬwelcomely adv. welcomeness n. welcomer n. welcomingly adv.
[orig. OE wilcuma one whose coming is pleasing f. wil- desire,
pleasure + cuma comer, with later change to wel- WELL(1) after
OF bien venu or ON velkominn]
weld(1) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 a hammer or press (pieces of iron or other
metal usu. heated but not melted) into one piece. b join by
fusion with an electric arc etc. c form by welding into some
article. 2 fashion (arguments, members of a group, etc.) into
an effectual or homogeneous whole. --n. a welded joint.
ЬЬweldable adj. weldability n. welder n. [alt. of WELL(2) v.
in obs. sense 'melt or weld (heated metal)', prob. infl. by
weld(2) n. 1 a plant, Reseda luteola, yielding a yellow dye. 2 hist.
this dye. [ME f. OE w(e)alde (unrecorded): cf. MDu. woude, MLG
welfare n. 1 well-being, happiness; health and prosperity (of a person
or a community etc.). 2 (Welfare) a the maintenance of persons
in such a condition esp. by statutory procedure or social
effort. b financial support given for this purpose. Ьwelfare
state 1 a system whereby the State undertakes to protect the
health and well-being of its citizens, esp. those in financial
or social need, by means of grants, pensions, etc. 2 a country
practising this system. welfare work organized effort for the
welfare of the poor, disabled, etc. [ME f. WELL(1) + FARE]
welfarism n. principles characteristic of a welfare state. ЬЬwelfarist
welkin n. poet. sky; the upper air. [OE wolcen cloud, sky]
well(1) adv., adj., & int. --adv. (better, best) 1 in a satisfactory
way (you have worked well). 2 in the right way (well said; you
did well to tell me). 3 with some talent or distinction (plays
the piano well). 4 in a kind way (treated me well). 5
thoroughly, carefully (polish it well). 6 with heartiness or
approval; favourably (speak well of; the book was well
reviewed). 7 probably, reasonably, advisably (you may well be
right; you may well ask; we might well take the risk). 8 to a
considerable extent (is well over forty). 9 successfully,
fortunately (it turned out well). 10 luckily, opportunely (well
met!). 11 with a fortunate outcome; without disaster (were well
rid of them). 12 profitably (did well for themselves). 13
comfortably, abundantly, liberally (we live well here; the job
pays well). --adj. (better, best) 1 (usu. predic.) in good
health (are you well?; was not a well person). 2 (predic.) a in
a satisfactory state or position (all is well). b advisable (it
would be well to enquire). --int. expressing surprise,
resignation, insistence, etc., or resumption or continuation of
talk, used esp. after a pause in speaking (well I never!; well,
I suppose so; well, who was it?). Ьas well 1 in addition; to an
equal extent. 2 (also just as well) with equal reason; with no
loss of advantage or need for regret (may as well give up; it
would be just as well to stop now). as well as in addition to.
leave (or let) well alone avoid needless change or disturbance.
well-acquainted (usu. foll. by with) familiar. well-adjusted 1
in a good state of adjustment. 2 Psychol. mentally and
emotionally stable. well-advised (usu. foll. by to + infin.)
(of a person) prudent (would be well-advised to wait).
well-affected (often foll. by to, towards) favourably disposed.
well and good expressing dispassionate acceptance of a decision
etc. well and truly decisively, completely. well-appointed
having all the necessary equipment. well aware certainly aware
(well aware of the danger). well away 1 having made
considerable progress. 2 colloq. fast asleep or drunk.
well-balanced 1 sane, sensible. 2 equally matched.
well-behaved see BEHAVE. well-being a state of being well,
healthy, contented, etc. well-beloved adj. dearly loved. --n.
(pl. same) a dearly loved person. well-born of noble family.
well-bred having or showing good breeding or manners.
well-built 1 of good construction. 2 (of a person) big and
strong and well-proportioned. well-chosen (of words etc.)
carefully selected for effect. well-conditioned in good
physical or moral condition. well-conducted (of a meeting etc.)
properly organized and controlled. well-connected see
CONNECTED. well-covered colloq. plump, corpulent.
well-defined clearly indicated or determined. well-deserved
rightfully merited or earned. well-disposed (often foll. by
towards) having a good disposition or friendly feeling (for).
well done 1 (of meat etc.) thoroughly cooked. 2 (of a task
etc.) performed well (also as int.). well-dressed fashionably
smart. well-earned fully deserved. well-endowed 1 well
provided with talent etc. 2 colloq. sexually potent or
attractive. well-favoured good-looking. well-fed having or
having had plenty to eat. well-found = well-appointed.
well-founded (of suspicions etc.) based on good evidence; having
a foundation in fact or reason. well-groomed (of a person) with
carefully tended hair, clothes, etc. well-grounded 1 =
well-founded. 2 having a good training in or knowledge of the
groundwork of a subject. well-heeled colloq. wealthy.
well-hung colloq. (of a man) having large genitals.
well-informed having much knowledge or information about a
subject. well-intentioned having or showing good intentions.
well-judged opportunely, skilfully, or discreetly done.
well-kept kept in good order or condition. well-knit (esp. of a
person) compact; not loose-jointed or sprawling. well-known 1
known to many. 2 known thoroughly. well-made 1 strongly or
skilfully manufactured. 2 (of a person or animal) having a good
build. well-mannered having good manners. well-marked
distinct; easy to detect. well-matched see MATCH(1).
well-meaning (or -meant) well-intentioned (but ineffective or
unwise). well off 1 having plenty of money. 2 in a fortunate
situation or circumstances. well-oiled colloq. 1 drunk. 2 (of
a compliment etc.) easily expressed through habitual use.
well-ordered arranged in an orderly manner. well-paid 1 (of a
job) that pays well. 2 (of a person) amply rewarded for a job.
well-pleased highly gratified or satisfied. well-preserved see
PRESERVE. well-read knowledgeable through much reading.
well-received welcomed; favourably received. well-rounded 1
complete and symmetrical. 2 (of a phrase etc.) complete and
well expressed. 3 (of a person) having or showing a fully
developed personality, ability, etc. well-spent (esp. of money
or time) used profitably. well-spoken articulate or refined in
speech. well-thought-of having a good reputation; esteemed,
respected. well-thought-out carefully devised. well-thumbed
bearing marks of frequent handling. well-timed opportune,
timely. well-to-do prosperous. well-tried often tested with
good results. well-trodden much frequented. well-turned 1 (of
a compliment, phrase, or verse) elegantly expressed. 2 (of a
leg, ankle, etc.) elegantly shaped or displayed.
well-upholstered see UPHOLSTER. well-wisher a person who wishes
one well. well-woman a woman who has undergone satisfactory
gynaecological tests (often attrib.: well-woman clinic).
well-worn 1 much worn by use. 2 (of a phrase etc.) trite,
hackneyed. well worth certainly worth (well worth a visit; well
worth visiting). °A hyphen is normally used in combinations of
well- when used attributively, but not when used predicatively,
e.g. a well-made coat but the coat is well made. ЬЬwellness n.
[OE wel, well prob. f. the same stem as WILL(1)]
well(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a shaft sunk into the ground to obtain water,
oil, etc. 2 an enclosed space like a well-shaft, e.g. in the
middle of a building for stairs or a lift, or for light or
ventilation. 3 (foll. by of) a source, esp. a copious one (a
well of information). 4 a a mineral spring. b (in pl.) a spa.
5 = ink-well. 6 archaic a water-spring or fountain. 7 Brit. a
railed space for solicitors etc. in a lawcourt. 8 a depression
for gravy etc. in a dish or tray, or for a mat in the floor. 9
Physics a region of minimum potential etc. --v.intr. (foll. by
out, up) spring as from a fountain; flow copiously. Ьwell-head
(or -spring) a source. [OE wella (= OHG wella wave, ON vella
boiling heat), wellan boil, melt f. Gmc]
we'll contr. we shall; we will.
wellies n.pl. Brit. colloq. wellingtons. [abbr.]
n. (in full wellington boot) Brit. a waterproof rubber or
plastic boot usu. reaching the knee. [after the 1st Duke of
Wellington, Brit. general and statesman d. 1852]
wellnigh adv. archaic or rhet. almost (wellnigh impossible).
Welsh adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Wales or its people or
language. --n. 1 the Celtic language of Wales. 2 (prec. by
the; treated as pl.) the people of Wales. ЬWelsh corgi see
CORGI. Welsh dresser a type of dresser with open shelves above
a cupboard. Welsh harp a harp with three rows of strings.
Welsh onion a species of onion, Allium fistulosum, forming
clusters of bulbs. Welsh rabbit (or rarebit by folk etymology)
a dish of melted cheese etc. on toast. [OE Welisc, W‘lisc,
etc., f. Gmc f. L Volcae, the name of a Celtic people]
welsh v.intr. (also welch) 1 (of a loser of a bet, esp. a bookmaker)
decamp without paying. 2 evade an obligation. 3 (foll. by on)
a fail to carry out a promise to (a person). b fail to honour
(an obligation). ЬЬwelsher n. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
Welshman n. (pl. -men) a man who is Welsh by birth or descent.
n. (pl. -women) a woman who is Welsh by birth or descent.
welt n. & v. --n. 1 a leather rim sewn round the edge of a
shoe-upper for the sole to be attached to. 2 = WEAL(1). 3 a
ribbed or reinforced border of a garment; a trimming. 4 a heavy
blow. --v.tr. 1 provide with a welt. 2 rain welts on; thrash.
[ME welte, walt, of unkn. orig.]
n. a particular philosophy or view of life; a conception of the
world. [G f. Welt world + Anschauung perception]
welter(1) v. & n. --v.intr. 1 roll, wallow; be washed about. 2 (foll.
by in) lie prostrate or be soaked or steeped in blood etc. --n.
1 a state of general confusion. 2 (foll. by of) a disorderly
mixture or contrast of beliefs, policies, etc. [ME f. MDu., MLG
welter(2) n. 1 a heavy rider or boxer. 2 colloq. a heavy blow. 3
colloq. a big person or thing. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
n. 1 a weight in certain sports intermediate between
lightweight and middleweight, in the amateur boxing scale
63.5-67 kg but differing for professionals, wrestlers, and
weightlifters. 2 a sportsman of this weight. Ьjunior
welterweight 1 a weight in professional boxing of 61.2-63.5 kg.
2 a professional boxer of this weight. light welterweight 1 a
weight in amateur boxing of 60-63.5 kg. 2 an amateur boxer of
n. a feeling of pessimism; an apathetic or vaguely yearning
outlook on life. [G f. Welt world + Schmerz pain]
wen(1) n. 1 a benign tumour on the skin esp. of the scalp. 2 an
outstandingly large or congested city. Ьthe great wen London.
[OE wen, wenn, of unkn. orig.: cf. Du. wen, MLG wene, LG wehne
wen(2) n. (also wyn) a runic letter in Old and Middle English, later
replaced by w. [OE, var. of wyn joy (see WINSOME), used because
it begins with this letter: cf. THORN 3]
wench n. & v. --n. 1 joc. a girl or young woman. 2 archaic a
prostitute. --v.intr. archaic (of a man) consort with
prostitutes. ЬЬwencher n. [ME wenche, wenchel f. OE wencel
child: cf. OE wancol weak, tottering]
Wend n. a member of a Slavic people of N. Germany, now inhabiting E.
Saxony. ЬЬWendic adj. Wendish adj. [G Wende f. OHG Winida, of
wend v.tr. & intr. literary or archaic go. Ьwend one's way make
one's way. [OE wendan turn f. Gmc, rel. to WIND(2)]
n. a children's small houselike tent or structure for playing
in. [after the house built around Wendy in Barrie's Peter Pan]
n. 1 a variety of white or blue cheese. 2 a a sheep of a breed
with long wool. b this breed. [Wensleydale in Yorkshire]
went past of GO(1).
n. any marine snail of the genus Clathrus, with a spiral shell
of many whorls. [Du. wenteltrap winding stair, spiral shell]
wept past of WEEP.
were 2nd sing. past, pl. past, and past subj. of BE.
we're contr. we are.
weren't contr. were not.
werewolf n. (also werwolf) (pl. -wolves) a mythical being who at times
changes from a person to a wolf. [OE werewulf: first element
perh. f. OE wer man = L vir]
wert archaic 2nd sing. past of BE.
Wesleyan adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to a Protestant denomination
founded by the English evangelist John Wesley (d. 1791) (cf.
METHODIST). --n. a member of this denomination. ЬЬWesleyanism
west n., adj., & adv. --n. 1 a the point of the horizon where the
sun sets at the equinoxes (cardinal point 90ш to the left of
north). b the compass point corresponding to this. c the
direction in which this lies. 2 (usu. the West) a European in
contrast to Oriental civilization. b the non-Communist States
of Europe and N. America. c the western part of the late Roman
Empire. d the western part of a country, town, etc. 3 Bridge a
player occupying the position designated 'west'. --adj. 1
towards, at, near, or facing west. 2 coming from the west (west
wind). --adv. 1 towards, at, or near the west. 2 (foll. by
of) further west than. Ьgo west sl. be killed or destroyed
etc. West Bank a region west of the River Jordan assigned to
Jordan in 1948 and occupied by Israel since 1967. West Country
the south-western counties of England. West End the
entertainment and shopping area of London to the west of the
City. West Indian 1 a native or national of any island of the
West Indies. 2 a person of West Indian descent. West Indies
the islands of Central America, including Cuba and the Bahamas.
west-north- (or south-) west the direction or compass-point
midway between west and north-west (or south-west). West Side
US the western part of Manhattan. [OE f. Gmc]
westbound adj. travelling or leading westwards.
westering adj. (of the sun) nearing the west. [wester (v.) ME f. WEST]
westerly adj., adv., & n. --adj. & adv. 1 in a western position or
direction. 2 (of a wind) blowing from the west. --n. (pl.
-ies) a wind blowing from the west. [wester (adj.) f. OE westra
western adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or in the west; inhabiting the west. 2
lying or directed towards the west. 3 (Western) of or relating
to the West (see WEST n. 2). --n. a film or novel about
cowboys in western North America. ЬWestern Church the part of
Christendom that has continued to derive its authority,
doctrine, and ritual from the popes in Rome. Western hemisphere
the half of the earth containing the Americas. Western roll a
technique of turning the body over the bar in high-jumping.
ЬЬwesternmost adj. [OE westerne (as WEST, -ERN)]
westerner n. a native or inhabitant of the west.
v.tr. (also Westernize, -ise) influence with or convert to the
ideas and customs etc. of the West. ЬЬwesternization n.
westing n. Naut. the distance travelled or the angle of longitude
measured westward from either a defined north-south grid line or
n. the Parliament at Westminster in London.
westward adj., adv., & n. --adj. & adv. (also westwards) towards the
west. --n. a westward direction or region.
wet adj., v., & n. --adj. (wetter, wettest) 1 soaked, covered, or
dampened with water or other liquid (a wet sponge; a wet
surface; got my feet wet). 2 (of the weather etc.) rainy (a wet
day). 3 (of paint, ink, etc.) not yet dried. 4 used with water
(wet shampoo). 5 Brit. colloq. feeble, inept. 6 Brit. Polit.
colloq. Conservative with liberal tendencies, esp. as regarded
by right-wing Conservatives. 7 sl. (of a country, of
legislation, etc.) allowing the free sale of alcoholic drink. 8
(of a baby or young child) incontinent (is still wet at night).
--v.tr. (wetting; past and past part. wet or wetted) 1 make
wet. 2 a urinate in or on (wet the bed). b refl. urinate
involuntarily. --n. 1 moisture; liquid that wets something. 2
rainy weather; a time of rain. 3 Brit. colloq. a feeble or
inept person. 4 Brit. Polit. colloq. a Conservative with
liberal tendencies (see sense 6 of adj.). 5 colloq. a drink.
Ьwet the baby's head colloq. celebrate its birth with a (usu.
alcoholic) drink. wet behind the ears immature, inexperienced.
wet blanket see BLANKET. wet dock a dock in which a ship can
float. wet dream an erotic dream with involuntary ejaculation
of semen. wet fly an artificial fly used under water by an
angler. wet look a shiny surface given to clothing materials.
wet-nurse n. a woman employed to suckle another's child.
--v.tr. 1 act as a wet-nurse to. 2 colloq. treat as if
helpless. wet pack the therapeutic wrapping of the body in wet
cloths etc. wet suit a close-fitting rubber garment worn by
skin-divers etc. to keep warm. wet through (or to the skin)
with one's clothes soaked. wetting agent a substance that helps
water etc. to spread or penetrate. wet one's whistle colloq.
drink. ЬЬwetly adv. wetness n. wettable adj. wetting n.
wettish adj. [OE w‘t (adj. & n.), w‘tan (v.), rel. to WATER: in
ME replaced by past part. of the verb]
wetback n. US colloq. an illegal immigrant from Mexico to the US.
[WET + BACK: from the practice of swimming the Rio Grande to
reach the US]
wether n. a castrated ram. [OE f. Gmc]
wetlands n.pl. swamps and other damp areas of land.
we've contr. we have.
wey n. a former unit of weight or volume varying with different
kinds of goods, e.g. 3 cwt. of cheese. [OE w‘g(e) balance,
weight f. Gmc, rel. to WEIGH(1)]
w.f. abbr. Printing wrong fount.
WFTU abbr. World Federation of Trade Unions.
Wg. Cdr. abbr. Wing Commander.
whack v. & n. colloq. --v.tr. 1 strike or beat forcefully with a
sharp blow. 2 (as whacked adj.) esp. Brit. tired out;
exhausted. --n. 1 a sharp or resounding blow. 2 sl. a share.
Ьhave a whack at sl. attempt. out of whack esp. US sl. out
of order; malfunctioning. ЬЬwhacker n. whacking n. [imit., or
alt. of THWACK]
whacking adj. & adv. colloq. --adj. very large. --adv. very (a
whacking great skyscraper).
whacko int. sl. expressing delight or enjoyment.
whacky var. of WACKY.
whale(1) n. (pl. same or whales) any of the larger marine mammals of the
order Cetacea, having a streamlined body and horizontal tail,
and breathing through a blowhole on the head. Ьa whale of a
colloq. an exceedingly good or fine etc. whale-oil oil from
the blubber of whales. whale shark a large tropical whalelike
shark, Rhincodon typus, feeding close to the surface. [OE hw‘l]
whale(2) v.tr. esp. US colloq. beat, thrash. [var. of WALE]
whaleback n. anything shaped like a whale's back.
whaleboat n. a double-bowed boat of a kind used in whaling.
whalebone n. an elastic horny substance growing in thin parallel plates
in the upper jaw of some whales, used as stiffening etc.
Ьwhalebone whale a baleen whale.
whaler n. 1 a whaling ship or a seaman engaged in whaling. 2 an
Australian shark of the genus Carcharhinus. 3 Austral. sl. a
whaling n. the practice or industry of hunting and killing whales, esp.
for their oil or whalebone. Ьwhaling-master the captain of a
wham int., n., & v. colloq. --int. expressing the sound of a
forcible impact. --n. such a sound. --v. (whammed, whamming)
1 intr. make such a sound or impact. 2 tr. strike forcibly.
whammy n. (pl. -ies) US colloq. an evil or unlucky influence. [20th
c.: orig. unkn.]
whang v. & n. colloq. --v. 1 tr. strike heavily and loudly; whack.
2 intr. (of a drum etc.) sound under or as under a blow. --n. a
whanging sound or blow. [imit.]
whangee n. 1 a Chinese or Japanese bamboo of the genus Phyllostachys.
2 a cane made from this. [Chin. huang old bamboo-sprouts]
whare n. a Maori hut or house. [Maori]
wharf n. & v. --n. (pl. wharves or wharfs) a level quayside area to
which a ship may be moved to load and unload. --v.tr. 1 moor
(a ship) at a wharf. 2 store (goods) on a wharf. [OE hwearf]
wharfage n. 1 accommodation at a wharf. 2 a fee for this.
wharfie n. Austral. & NZ colloq. a waterside worker; a wharf-labourer.
n. an owner or keeper of a wharf. [prob. ult. f. WHARFAGE]
wharves pl. of WHARF.
what adj., pron., & adv. --interrog.adj. 1 asking for a choice from
an indefinite number or for a statement of amount, number, or
kind (what books have you read?; what news have you?). 2
colloq. = WHICH interrog.adj. (what book have you chosen?).
--adj. (usu. in exclam.) how great or remarkable (what luck!).
--rel.adj. the or any ... that (will give you what help I can).
--pron. (corresp. to the functions of the adj.) 1 what thing or
things? (what is your name?; I don't know what you mean). 2
(asking for a remark to be repeated) = what did you say? 3
asking for confirmation or agreement of something not completely
understood (you did what?; what, you really mean it?). 4 how
much (what you must have suffered!). 5 (as rel.pron.) that or
those which; a or the or any thing which (what followed was
worse; tell me what you think). --adv. to what extent (what
does it matter?). Ьwhat about what is the news or position or
your opinion of (what about me?; what about a game of tennis?).
what-d'you-call-it (or what's-its-name) a substitute for a name
not recalled. what ever what at all or in any way (what ever do
you mean?) (see also WHATEVER). what for colloq. 1 for what
reason? 2 a severe reprimand (esp. give a person what for).
what have you colloq. (prec. by or) anything else similar. what
if? 1 what would result etc. if. 2 what would it matter if.
what is more and as an additional point; moreover. what next?
colloq. what more absurd, shocking, or surprising thing is
possible? what not (prec. by and) other similar things. what
of? what is the news concerning? what of it? why should that
be considered significant? what's-his (or -its) -name =
what-d'you-call-it. what's what colloq. what is useful or
important etc. what with colloq. because of (usu. several
things). [OE hw‘t f. Gmc]
whate'er poet. var. of WHATEVER.
whatever adj. & pron. 1 = WHAT (in relative uses) with the emphasis on
indefiniteness (lend me whatever you can; whatever money you
have). 2 though anything (we are safe whatever happens). 3
(with neg. or interrog.) at all; of any kind (there is no doubt
whatever). 4 colloq. = what ever. Ьor whatever colloq. or
whatnot n. 1 an indefinite or trivial thing. 2 a stand with shelves
for small objects.
whatso adj. & pron. archaic = WHATEVER 1, 2. [ME, = WHAT + SO, f. OE
swa hw‘t swa]
poet. var. of WHATSOEVER.
adj. & pron. = WHATEVER 1, 2, 3.
whaup n. esp. Sc. a curlew. [imit. of its cry]
wheal var. of WEAL(1).
wheat n. 1 any cereal plant of the genus Triticum, bearing dense
four-sided seed-spikes. 2 its grain, used in making flour etc.
Ьseparate the wheat from the chaff see CHAFF. wheat-belt a
region where wheat is the chief agricultural product. wheat
germ the embryo of the wheat grain, extracted as a source of
vitamins. wheat-grass = couch grass (see COUCH(2)). [OE hw‘te
f. Gmc, rel. to WHITE]
wheatear n. any small migratory bird of the genus Oenanthe, esp. with a
white belly and rump. [app. f. wheatears (as WHITE, ARSE)]
wheaten adj. made of wheat.
wheatmeal n. flour made from wheat with some of the bran and germ
n. an apparatus for measuring electrical resistances by
equalizing the potential at two points of a circuit. [C.
Wheatstone, Engl. physicist d. 1875]
whee int. expressing delight or excitement. [imit.]
wheedle v.tr. 1 coax by flattery or endearments. 2 (foll. by out) a
get (a thing) out of a person by wheedling. b cheat (a person)
out of a thing by wheedling. ЬЬwheedler n. wheedling adj.
wheedlingly adv. [perh. f. G wedeln fawn, cringe f. Wedel
wheel n. & v. --n. 1 a circular frame or disc arranged to revolve on
an axle and used to facilitate the motion of a vehicle or for
various mechanical purposes. 2 a wheel-like thing (Catherine
wheel; potter's wheel; steering wheel). 3 motion as of a wheel,
esp. the movement of a line of people with one end as a pivot.
4 a machine etc. of which a wheel is an essential part. 5 (in
pl.) sl. a car. 6 US sl. = big wheel 2. 7 a set of short lines
concluding a stanza. --v. 1 intr. & tr. a turn on an axis or
pivot. b swing round in line with one end as a pivot. 2 a
intr. (often foll. by about, round) change direction or face
another way. b tr. cause to do this. 3 tr. push or pull (a
wheeled thing esp. a barrow, bicycle, or pram, or its load or
occupant). 4 intr. go in circles or curves (seagulls wheeling
overhead). Ьat the wheel 1 driving a vehicle. 2 directing a
ship. 3 in control of affairs. on wheels (or oiled wheels)
smoothly. wheel and deal engage in political or commercial
scheming. wheel-back adj. (of a chair) with a back shaped like
or containing the design of a wheel. wheel-house a steersman's
shelter. wheel-lock 1 an old kind of gunlock having a steel
wheel to rub against flint etc. 2 a gun with this. wheel of
Fortune luck. wheel-spin rotation of a vehicle's wheels without
traction. wheels within wheels 1 intricate machinery. 2
colloq. indirect or secret agencies. ЬЬwheeled adj. (also in
comb.). wheelless adj. [OE hweol, hweogol f. Gmc]
n. a small cart with one wheel and two shafts for carrying
garden loads etc.
wheelbase n. the distance between the front and rear axles of a vehicle.
n. a chair on wheels for an invalid or disabled person.
wheeler n. 1 (in comb.) a vehicle having a specified number of wheels.
2 a wheelwright. 3 a horse harnessed next to the wheels and
behind another. Ьwheeler-dealer a person who wheels and deals.
wheelie n. sl. the stunt of riding a bicycle or motor cycle for a
short distance with the front wheel off the ground.
wheelman n. esp. US 1 a driver of a wheeled vehicle. 2 a helmsman.
wheelsman n. (pl. -men) US a steersman.
n. a person who makes or repairs esp. wooden wheels.
wheeze v. & n. --v. 1 intr. breathe with an audible chesty whistling
sound. 2 tr. (often foll. by out) utter in this way. --n. 1 a
sound of wheezing. 2 colloq. a Brit. a clever scheme. b an
actor's interpolated joke etc. c a catch-phrase. ЬЬwheezer n.
wheezingly adv. wheezy adj. (wheezier, wheeziest). wheezily
adv. wheeziness n. [prob. f. ON hv‘sa to hiss]
whelk(1) n. any predatory marine gastropod mollusc of the family
Buccinidae, esp. the edible kind of the genus Baccinum, having a
spiral shell. [OE wioloc, weoloc, of unkn. orig.: perh. infl.
whelk(2) n. a pimple. [OE hwylca f. hwelian suppurate]
whelp n. & v. --n. 1 a young dog; a puppy. 2 archaic a cub. 3 an
ill-mannered child or youth. 4 (esp. in pl.) a projection on
the barrel of a capstan or windlass. --v.tr. (also absol.) 1
bring forth (a whelp or whelps). 2 derog. (of a human mother)
give birth to. 3 originate (an evil scheme etc.). [OE hwelp]
when adv., conj., pron., & n. --interrog.adv. 1 at what time? 2 on
what occasion? 3 how soon? 4 how long ago? --rel.adv. (prec.
by time etc.) at or on which (there are times when I could cry).
--conj. 1 at the or any time that; as soon as (come when you
like; come when ready; when I was your age). 2 although;
considering that (why stand up when you could sit down?). 3
after which; and then; but just then (was nearly asleep when the
bell rang). --pron. what time? (till when can you stay?; since
when it has been better). --n. time, occasion, date (fixed the
where and when). [OE hwanne, hwenne]
whence adv. & conj. formal --adv. from what place? (whence did they
come?). --conj. 1 to the place from which (return whence you
came). 2 (often prec. by place etc.) from which (the source
whence these errors arise). 3 and thence (whence it follows
that). °Use of from whence as in the place from whence they
came, though common, is generally considered incorrect. [ME
whannes, whennes f. whanne, whenne f. OE hwanon(e) whence,
formed as WHEN + -S(3): cf. THENCE]
adv. & conj. formal from whatever place or source.
whene'er poet. var. of WHENEVER.
whenever conj. & adv. 1 at whatever time; on whatever occasion. 2 every
time that. Ьor whenever colloq. or at any similar time.
poet. var. of WHENSOEVER.
conj. & adv. formal = WHENEVER.
where adv., conj., pron., & n. --interrog.adv. 1 in or to what place
or position? (where is the milk?; where are you going?). 2 in
what direction or respect? (where does the argument lead?; where
does it concern us?). 3 in what book etc.?; from whom? (where
did you read that?; where did you hear that?). 4 in what
situation or condition? (where does that leave us?). --rel.adv.
(prec. by place etc.) in or to which (places where they meet).
--conj. 1 in or to the or any place, direction, or respect in
which (go where you like; that is where you are wrong; delete
where applicable). 2 and there (reached Crewe, where the car
broke down). --pron. what place? (where do you come from?;
where are you going to?). --n. place; scene of something (see
WHEN n.). [OE hw‘r, hwar]
adv. & n. --adv. where or approximately where? (whereabouts
are they?; show me whereabouts to look). --n. (as sing. or
pl.) a person's or thing's location roughly defined.
conj. formal after which.
whereas conj. 1 in contrast or comparison with the fact that. 2 (esp.
in legal preambles) taking into consideration the fact that.
whereat conj. archaic 1 at which place or point. 2 for which reason.
whereby conj. by what or which means.
where'er poet. var. of WHEREVER.
wherefore adv. & n. --adv. archaic 1 for what reason? 2 for which
reason. --n. a reason (the whys and wherefores).
wherefrom conj. archaic from which, from where.
wherein conj. & adv. formal --conj. in what or which place or respect.
--adv. in what place or respect?
whereof conj. & adv. formal --conj. of what or which (the means
whereof). --adv. of what?
whereon conj. & adv. archaic --conj. on what or which. --adv. on what?
poet. var. of WHERESOEVER.
conj. & adv. formal or literary = WHEREVER.
whereto conj. & adv. formal --conj. to what or which. --adv. to what?
whereupon conj. immediately after which.
wherever adv. & conj. --adv. in or to whatever place. --conj. in every
place that. Ьor wherever colloq. or in any similar place.
n. colloq. money etc. needed for a purpose (has not the
wherewithal to do it).
wherry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a light rowing-boat usu. for carrying
passengers. 2 a large light barge. [ME: orig. unkn.]
wherryman n. (pl. -men) a man employed on a wherry.
whet v. & n. --v.tr. (whetted, whetting) 1 sharpen (a scythe or
other tool) by grinding. 2 stimulate (the appetite or a desire,
interest, etc.). --n. 1 the act or an instance of whetting. 2
a small quantity stimulating one's appetite for more. ЬЬwhetter
n. (also in comb.). [OE hwettan f. Gmc]
whether conj. introducing the first or both of alternative
possibilities (I doubt whether it matters; I do not know whether
they have arrived or not). Ьwhether or no see NO(2). [OE
hw‘ther, hwether f. Gmc]
whetstone n. 1 a tapered stone used with water to sharpen curved tools,
e.g. sickles, hooks (cf. OILSTONE). 2 a thing that sharpens
the senses etc.
whew int. expressing surprise, consternation, or relief. [imit.:
whey n. the watery liquid left when milk forms curds. Ьwhey-faced
pale esp. with fear. [OE hw‘g, hweg f. LG]
which adj. & pron. --interrog.adj. asking for choice from a definite
set of alternatives (which John do you mean?; say which book you
prefer; which way shall we go?). --rel.adj. being the one just
referred to; and this or these (ten years, during which time
they admitted nothing; a word of advice, which action is within
your power, will set things straight). --interrog.pron. 1
which person or persons (which of you is responsible?). 2 which
thing or things (say which you prefer). --rel.pron. (poss. of
which, whose) 1 which thing or things, usu. introducing a clause
not essential for identification (cf. THAT pron. 7) (the
house, which is empty, has been damaged). 2 used in place of
that after in or that (there is the house in which I was born;
that which you have just seen). Ьwhich is which a phrase used
when two or more persons or things are difficult to distinguish
from each other. [OE hwilc f. Gmc]
whichever adj. & pron. 1 any which (take whichever you like; whichever
one you like). 2 no matter which (whichever one wins, they both
get a prize).
adj. & pron. archaic = WHICHEVER.
whidah var. of WHYDAH.
whiff n. & v. --n. 1 a puff or breath of air, smoke, etc. (went
outside for a whiff of fresh air). 2 a smell (caught the whiff
of a cigar). 3 (foll. by of) a trace or suggestion of scandal
etc. 4 a small cigar. 5 a minor discharge (of grapeshot etc.).
6 a light narrow outrigged sculling-boat. --v. 1 tr. & intr.
blow or puff lightly. 2 intr. Brit. smell (esp. unpleasant).
3 tr. get a slight smell of. [imit.]
whiffle v. & n. --v. 1 intr. & tr. (of the wind) blow lightly, shift
about. 2 intr. be variable or evasive. 3 intr. (of a flame,
leaves, etc.) flicker, flutter. 4 intr. make the sound of a
light wind in breathing etc. --n. a slight movement of air.
ЬЬwhiffler n. [WHIFF + -LE(4)]
n. US = SWINGLETREE. [var. of WHIPPLETREE]
whiffy adj. colloq. (whiffier, whiffiest) having an unpleasant smell.
Whig n. hist. 1 Polit. a member of the British reforming and
constitutional party that after 1688 sought the supremacy of
Parliament and was eventually succeeded in the 19th c. by the
Liberal Party (opp. TORY 2). 2 a 17th-c. Scottish
Presbyterian. 3 US a a supporter of the American Revolution. b
a member of an American political party in the 19th c.,
succeeded by the Republicans. ЬЬWhiggery n. Whiggish adj.
Whiggism n. [prob. a shortening of Sc. whiggamer, -more,
nickname of 17th-c. Sc. rebels, f. whig to drive + MARE(1)]
while n., conj., v., & adv. --n. 1 a space of time, time spent in
some action (a long while ago; waited a while; all this while).
2 (prec. by the) a during some other process. b poet. during
the time that. 3 (prec. by a) for some time (have not seen you
a while). --conj. 1 during the time that; for as long as; at
the same time as (while I was away, the house was burgled; fell
asleep while reading). 2 in spite of the fact that; although,
whereas (while I want to believe it, I cannot). 3 N.Engl. until
(wait while Monday). --v.tr. (foll. by away) pass (time etc.)
in a leisurely or interesting manner. --rel.adv. (prec. by time
etc.) during which (the summer while I was abroad). Ьall the
while during the whole time (that). for a long while for a long
time past. for a while for some time. a good (or great) while
a considerable time. in a while (or little while) soon,
shortly. worth while (or one's while) worth the time or effort
spent. [OE hwil f. Gmc: (conj.) abbr. of OE tha hwile the, ME
the while that]
whiles conj. archaic = WHILE. [orig. in the adverbs somewhiles,
whim n. 1 a a sudden fancy; a caprice. b capriciousness. 2 archaic
a kind of windlass for raising ore or water from a mine. [17th
c.: orig. unkn.]
whimbrel n. a small curlew, esp. Numenius phaeopus. [WHIMPER (imit.):
whimper v. & n. --v. 1 intr. make feeble, querulous, or frightened
sounds; cry and whine softly. 2 tr. utter whimperingly. --n.
1 a whimpering sound. 2 a feeble note or tone (the conference
ended on a whimper). ЬЬwhimperer n. whimperingly adv. [imit.,
f. dial. whimp]
whimsical adj. 1 capricious. 2 fantastic. 3 odd or quaint; fanciful,
humorous. ЬЬwhimsicality n. whimsically adv. whimsicalness n.
whimsy n. (also whimsey) (pl. -ies or -eys) 1 a whim; a capricious
notion or fancy. 2 capricious or quaint humour. [rel. to
WHIM-WHAM: cf. flimsy]
whim-wham n. archaic 1 a toy or plaything. 2 = WHIM 1. [redupl.: orig.
whin(1) n. (in sing. or pl.) furze, gorse. [prob. Scand.: cf. Norw.
hvine, Sw. hven]
whin(2) n. 1 hard dark esp. basaltic rock or stone. 2 a piece of this.
[ME: orig. unkn.]
whinchat n. a small brownish songbird, Saxicola rubetra. [WHIN(1) +
whine n. & v. --n. 1 a complaining long-drawn wail as of a dog. 2 a
similar shrill prolonged sound. 3 a a querulous tone. b an
instance of feeble or undignified complaining. --v. 1 intr.
emit or utter a whine. 2 intr. complain in a querulous tone or
in a feeble or undignified way. 3 tr. utter in a whining tone.
ЬЬwhiner n. whiningly adv. whiny adj. (whinier, whiniest).
whinge v. & n. colloq. --v.intr. whine; grumble peevishly. --n. a
whining complaint; a peevish grumbling. ЬЬwhinger n.
whingingly adv. whingy adj. [OE hwinsian f. Gmc]
whinny n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) a gentle or joyful neigh. --v.intr.
(-ies, -ied) give a whinny. [imit.: cf. WHINE]
whinstone n. = WHIN(2).
whip n. & v. --n. 1 a lash attached to a stick for urging on
animals or punishing etc. 2 a a member of a political party in
Parliament appointed to control its parliamentary discipline and
tactics, esp. ensuring attendance and voting in debates. b
Brit. the whips' written notice requesting or requiring
attendance for voting at a division etc., variously underlined
according to the degree of urgency (three-line whip). c (prec.
by the) party discipline and instructions (asked for the Labour
whip). 3 a dessert made with whipped cream etc. 4 the action
of beating cream, eggs, etc., into a froth. 5 = WHIPPER-IN. 6
a rope-and-pulley hoisting apparatus. --v. (whipped, whipping)
1 tr. beat or urge on with a whip. 2 tr. beat (cream or eggs
etc.) into a froth. 3 tr. & intr. take or move suddenly,
unexpectedly, or rapidly (whipped away the tablecloth; whipped
out a knife; whip off your coat; whipped behind the door). 4
tr. Brit. sl. steal (who's whipped my pen?). 5 tr. sl. a
excel. b defeat. 6 tr. bind with spirally wound twine. 7 tr.
sew with overcast stitches. Ьwhip-bird any Australian bird of
the genus Psophodes with a cry like the crack of a whip.
whip-crane a light derrick with tackle for hoisting. whip-graft
Hort. a graft with the tongue of the scion in a slot in the
stock and vice versa. whip hand 1 a hand that holds the whip
(in riding etc.). 2 (usu. prec. by the) the advantage or
control in any situation. whip in bring (hounds) together.
whip on urge into action. whip-round esp. Brit. colloq. an
informal collection of money from a group of people. whip
scorpion any arachnid of the order Uropygi, with a long slender
tail-like appendage, which secretes an irritating vapour. whip
snake any of various long slender snakes of the family
Colubridae. whip-stitch a stitch made by whipping. whip up 1
excite or stir up (feeling etc.). 2 summon (attendance).
ЬЬwhipless adj. whiplike adj. whipper n. [ME (h)wippen (v.),
prob. f. MLG & MDu. wippen swing, leap, dance]
whipcord n. 1 a tightly twisted cord such as is used for making
whiplashes. 2 a close-woven worsted fabric.
whiplash n. 1 the flexible end of a whip. 2 a blow with a whip.
Ьwhiplash injury an injury to the neck caused by a jerk of the
head, esp. as in a motor accident.
n. a huntsman's assistant who manages the hounds.
n. 1 a small child. 2 an insignificant but presumptuous or
intrusive (esp. young) person. [perh. for whipsnapper, implying
noise and unimportance]
whippet n. a cross-bred dog of the greyhound type used for racing.
[prob. f. obs. whippet move briskly, f. whip it]
whipping n. 1 a beating, esp. with a whip. 2 cord wound round in
binding. Ьwhipping-boy 1 a scapegoat. 2 hist. a boy educated
with a young prince and punished instead of him. whipping-cream
cream suitable for whipping. whipping-post hist. a post used
for public whippings. whipping-top a top kept spinning by blows
of a lash.
n. = SWINGLETREE. [app. f. WHIP + TREE]
n. an American nightjar, Caprimulgus vociferus. [imit. of its
whippy adj. (whippier, whippiest) flexible, springy. ЬЬwhippiness n.
whipsaw n. & v. --n. a saw with a narrow blade held at each end by a
frame. --v. (past part. -sawn or -sawed) 1 tr. cut with a
whipsaw. 2 US sl. a tr. cheat by joint action on two others.
b intr. be cheated in this way.
whipstock n. the handle of a whip.
whir var. of WHIRR.
whirl v. & n. --v. 1 tr. & intr. swing round and round; revolve
rapidly. 2 tr. & intr. (foll. by away) convey or go rapidly in
a vehicle etc. 3 tr. & intr. send or travel swiftly in an orbit
or a curve. 4 intr. a (of the brain, senses, etc.) seem to
spin round. b (of thoughts etc.) be confused; follow each other
in bewildering succession. --n. 1 a whirling movement
(vanished in a whirl of dust). 2 a state of intense activity
(the social whirl). 3 a state of confusion (my mind is in a
whirl). 4 colloq. an attempt (give it a whirl). Ьwhirling
dervish see DERVISH. ЬЬwhirler n. whirlingly adv. [ME: (v.)
f. ON hvirfla: (n.) f. MLG & MDu. wervel spindle & ON hvirfill
circle f. Gmc]
whirligig n. 1 a spinning or whirling toy. 2 a merry-go-round. 3 a
revolving motion. 4 anything regarded as hectic or constantly
changing (the whirligig of time). 5 any freshwater beetle of
the family Gyrinidae that circles about on the surface. [ME f.
WHIRL + obs. gig whipping-top]
whirlpool n. a powerful circular eddy in the sea etc. often causing
suction to its centre.
whirlwind n. 1 a mass or column of air whirling rapidly round and round
in a cylindrical or funnel shape over land or water. 2 a
confused tumultuous process. 3 (attrib.) very rapid (a
whirlwind romance). Ьreap the whirlwind suffer worse results of
a bad action.
n. colloq. a helicopter.
whirr n. & v. (also whir) --n. a continuous rapid buzzing or softly
clicking sound as of a bird's wings or of cog-wheels in constant
motion. --v.intr. (whirred, whirring) make this sound. [ME,
prob. Scand.: cf. Da. hvirre, Norw. kvirra, perh. rel. to
whisht v. (also whist) esp. Sc. & Ir. dial. 1 intr. (esp. as int.)
be quiet; hush. 2 tr. quieten. [imit.]
whisk v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (foll. by away, off) a brush with a
sweeping movement. b take with a sudden motion (whisked the
plate away). 2 tr. whip (cream, eggs, etc.). 3 tr. & intr.
convey or go (esp. out of sight) lightly or quickly (whisked me
off to the doctor; the mouse whisked into its hole). 4 tr. wave
or lightly brandish. --n. 1 a whisking action or motion. 2 a
utensil for whisking eggs or cream etc. 3 a bunch of grass,
twigs, bristles, etc., for removing dust or flies. [ME wisk,
prob. Scand.: cf. ON visk wisp]
whisker n. 1 (usu. in pl.) the hair growing on a man's face, esp. on
the cheek. 2 each of the bristles on the face of a cat etc. 3
colloq. a small distance (within a whisker of; won by a
whisker). 4 a strong hairlike crystal of metal etc. Ьhave (or
have grown) whiskers colloq. (esp. of a story etc.) be very
old. ЬЬwhiskered adj. whiskery adj. [WHISK + -ER(1)]
whisky n. (Ir., US whiskey) (pl. -ies or -eys) 1 a spirit distilled
esp. from malted barley, other grains, or potatoes, etc. 2 a
drink of this. [abbr. of obs. whiskybae, var. of USQUEBAUGH]
whisper v. & n. --v. 1 a intr. speak very softly without vibration of
the vocal cords. b intr. & tr. talk or say in a barely audible
tone or in a secret or confidential way. 2 intr. speak
privately or conspiratorially. 3 intr. (of leaves, wind, or
water) rustle or murmur. --n. 1 whispering speech (talking in
whispers). 2 a whispering sound. 3 a thing whispered. 4 a
rumour or piece of gossip. Ьit is whispered there is a rumour.
whispering-gallery a gallery esp. under a dome with acoustic
properties such that a whisper may be heard round its entire
circumference. ЬЬwhisperer n. whispering n. [OE hwisprian f.
whist(1) n. a card-game usu. for four players, with the winning of
tricks. Ьwhist drive a social occasion with the playing of
progressive whist. [earlier whisk, perh. f. WHISK (with ref.
to whisking away the tricks): perh. assoc. with WHIST(2)]
whist(2) var. of WHISHT.
whistle n. & v. --n. 1 a clear shrill sound made by forcing breath
through a small hole between nearly closed lips. 2 a similar
sound made by a bird, the wind, a missile, etc. 3 an instrument
used to produce such a sound. --v. 1 intr. emit a whistle. 2
a intr. give a signal or express surprise or derision by
whistling. b tr. (often foll. by up) summon or give a signal to
(a dog etc.) by whistling. 3 tr. (also absol.) produce (a tune)
by whistling. 4 intr. (foll. by for) vainly seek or desire.
Ьas clean (or clear or dry) as a whistle very clean or clear or
dry. blow the whistle on colloq. bring (an activity) to an
end; inform on (those responsible). whistle down the wind 1 let
go, abandon. 2 turn (a hawk) loose. whistle in the dark
pretend to be unafraid. whistle-stop 1 US a small unimportant
town on a railway. 2 a politician's brief pause for an
electioneering speech on tour. 3 (attrib.) with brief pauses (a
whistle-stop tour). whistling kettle a kettle fitted with a
whistle sounded by steam when the kettle is boiling. [OE
(h)wistlian (v.), (h)wistle (n.) of imit. orig.: cf. ON hvЎsla
whisper, MSw. hvisla whistle]
whistler n. 1 any bird of the genus Pachycephala, with a whistling cry.
2 a kind of marmot.
Whit adj. connected with, belonging to, or following Whit Sunday
(Whit Monday; Whit weekend). ЬWhit Sunday the seventh Sunday
after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit at
Pentecost (Acts 2). [OE Hwita Sunnand‘g, lit. white Sunday,
prob. f. the white robes of the newly-baptized at Pentecost]
whit n. a particle; a least possible amount (not a whit better).
Ьevery whit the whole; wholly. no (or never a or not a) whit
not at all. [earlier w(h)yt app. alt. f. WIGHT in phr. no
white adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 resembling a surface reflecting
sunlight without absorbing any of the visible rays; of the
colour of milk or fresh snow. 2 approaching such a colour; pale
esp. in the face (turned as white as a sheet). 3 less dark than
other things of the same kind. 4 (White) a of the human group
having light-coloured skin. b of or relating to White people.
5 albino (white mouse). 6 a (of hair) having lost its colour
esp. in old age. b (of a person) white-haired. 7 colloq.
innocent, untainted. 8 (in comb.) (of esp. animals) having some
white on the body (white-throated). 9 a (of a plant) having
white flowers or pale-coloured fruit etc. (white hyacinth; white
cauliflower). b (of a tree) having light-coloured bark etc.
(white ash; white poplar). 10 (of wine) made from white grapes
or dark grapes with the skins removed. 11 (of coffee) with milk
or cream added. 12 transparent, colourless (white glass). 13
hist. counter-revolutionary or reactionary (white guard; white
army). --n. 1 a white colour or pigment. 2 a white clothes or
material (dressed in white). b (in pl.) white garments as worn
in cricket, tennis, etc. 3 a (in a game or sport) a white
piece, ball, etc. b the player using such pieces. 4 the white
part or albumen round the yolk of an egg. 5 the visible part of
the eyeball round the iris. 6 (White) a member of a
light-skinned race. 7 a white butterfly. 8 a blank space in
printing. --v.tr. archaic make white. Ьbleed white drain (a
person, country, etc.) of wealth etc. white admiral a
butterfly, Limenitis camilla, with a white band across its
wings. white ant a termite. white cell (or corpuscle) a
leucocyte. white Christmas Christmas with snow on the ground.
white coal water as a source of power. white-collar (of a
worker) engaged in clerical or administrative rather than manual
work. white currant a cultivar of redcurrant with pale edible
berries. whited sepulchre see SEPULCHRE. white dwarf a small
very dense star. white elephant a useless and troublesome
possession or thing. white ensign see ENSIGN. white feather a
symbol of cowardice (a white feather in the tail of a game-bird
being a mark of bad breeding). white fish fish with pale flesh,
e.g. plaice, cod, etc. white flag a symbol of surrender or a
period of truce. White Friar a Carmelite. white frost see
FROST. white goods 1 domestic linen. 2 large domestic
electrical equipment. white heat 1 the temperature at which
metal emits white light. 2 a state of intense passion or
activity. white hope a person expected to achieve much for a
group, organization, etc. white horses white-crested waves at
sea. white-hot at white heat. White House the official
residence of the US President in Washington. white lead a
mixture of lead carbonate and hydrated lead oxide used as
pigment. white lie a harmless or trivial untruth. white light
colourless light, e.g. ordinary daylight. white lime lime mixed
with water as a coating for walls; whitewash. white magic magic
used only for beneficent purposes. white matter the part of the
brain and spinal cord consisting mainly of nerve fibres (see
also grey matter). white meat poultry, veal, rabbit, and pork.
white metal a white or silvery alloy. white monk a Cistercian.
white night a sleepless night. white noise noise containing
many frequencies with equal intensities. white-out a dense
blizzard esp. in polar regions. white ox-eye = ox-eye daisy.
White Paper (in the UK) a Government report giving information
or proposals on an issue. white pepper see PEPPER. white
poplar = ABELE. white rose the emblem of Yorkshire or the House
of York. White Russian a Belorussian. white sale a sale of
household linen. white sauce a sauce of flour, melted butter,
and milk or cream. White slave a woman tricked or forced into
prostitution, usu. abroad. White slavery traffic in White
slaves. white sock = STOCKING 3. white spirit light petroleum
as a solvent. white sugar purified sugar. white tie a man's
white bow-tie as part of full evening dress. white vitriol
Chem. zinc sulphate. white water a shallow or foamy stretch of
water. white wedding a wedding at which the bride wears a
formal white wedding dress. white whale a northern cetacean,
Delphinapterus leucas, white when adult: also called BELUGA.
ЬЬwhitely adv. whiteness n. whitish adj. [OE hwit f. Gmc]
whitebait n. (pl. same) 1 (usu. pl.) the small silvery-white young of
herrings and sprats esp. as food. 2 NZ a young inanga.
whitebeam n. a rosaceous tree, Sorbus aria, having red berries and leaves
with a white downy under-side.
whiteface n. the white make-up of an actor etc.
whitefish n. (pl. same or -fishes) any freshwater fish of the genus
Coregonus etc., of the trout family, and used esp. for food.
whitefly n. (pl. -flies) any small insect of the family Aleyrodidae,
having wings covered with white powder and feeding on the sap of
shrubs, crops, etc.
Whitehall n. 1 the British Government. 2 its offices or policy. [a
street in London in which Government offices are situated]
whitehead n. colloq. a white or white-topped skin-pustule.
whiten v.tr. & intr. make or become white. ЬЬwhitener n. whitening
n. 1 a worker in tin. 2 a polisher or finisher of metal goods.
n. the hawthorn.
n. a warbler, Sylvia communis, with a white patch on the
whitewash n. & v. --n. 1 a solution of quicklime or of whiting and size
for whitening walls etc. 2 a means employed to conceal mistakes
or faults in order to clear a person or institution of
imputations. --v.tr. 1 cover with whitewash. 2 attempt by
concealment to clear the reputation of. 3 (in passive) (of an
insolvent) get a fresh start by passage through a bankruptcy
court. 4 US defeat (an opponent) without allowing any opposing
score. ЬЬwhitewasher n.
whitewood n. a light-coloured wood esp. prepared for staining etc.
Whitey n. (pl. -eys) sl. offens. 1 a White person. 2 White people
whither adv. & conj. archaic --adv. 1 to what place, position, or
state? 2 (prec. by place etc.) to which (the house whither we
were walking). --conj. 1 to the or any place to which (go
whither you will). 2 and thither (we saw a house, whither we
walked). [OE hwider f. Gmc: cf. WHICH, HITHER, THITHER]
adj. & conj. archaic to any place to which.
n. a small white-fleshed fish, Merlangus merlangus, used as
food. [ME f. MDu. wijting, app. formed as WHITE + -ING(3)]
n. ground chalk used in whitewashing, plate-cleaning, etc.
n. tawed leather. [ME f. WHITE + LEATHER]
whitlow n. an inflammation near a fingernail or toenail. [ME whitflaw,
-flow, app. = WHITE + FLAW(1) in the sense 'crack', but perh. of
LG orig.: cf. Du. fijt, LG fit whitlow]
Whitsun n. & adj. --n. = WHITSUNTIDE. --adj. = WHIT. [ME, f. Whitsun
Day = Whit Sunday]
n. the weekend or week including Whit Sunday.
whittle v. 1 tr. & (foll. by at) intr. pare (wood etc.) with repeated
slicing with a knife. 2 tr. (often foll. by away, down) reduce
by repeated subtractions. [var. of ME thwitel long knife f. OE
thwitan to cut off]
whity adj. whitish; rather white (usu. in comb.: whity-brown) (cf.
whiz n. & v. (also whizz) colloq. --n. 1 the sound made by the
friction of a body moving through the air at great speed. 2
(also wiz) colloq. a person who is remarkable or skilful in some
respect (is a whiz at chess). --v.intr. (whizzed, whizzing)
move with or make a whiz. Ьwhiz-bang colloq. 1 a high-velocity
shell from a small-calibre gun, whose passage is heard before
the gun's report. 2 a jumping kind of firework. whiz-kid
colloq. a brilliant or highly successful young person. [imit.:
in sense 2 infl. by WIZARD]
WHO abbr. World Health Organization.
who pron. (obj. whom or colloq. who; poss. whose) 1 a what or
which person or persons? (who called?; you know who it was; whom
or who did you see?). °In the last example whom is correct but
who is common in less formal contexts. b what sort of person or
persons? (who am I to object?). 2 (a person) that (anyone who
wishes can come; the woman whom you met; the man who you saw).
°In the last two examples whom is correct but who is common in
less formal contexts. 3 and or but he, she, they, etc. (gave it
to Tom, who sold it to Jim). 4 archaic the or any person or
persons that (whom the gods love die young). Ьas who should say
like a person who said; as though one said. who-does-what (of a
dispute etc.) about which group of workers should do a
particular job. who goes there? see GO(1). who's who 1 who or
what each person is (know who's who). 2 a list or directory
with facts about notable persons. [OE hwa f. Gmc: whom f. OE
dative hwam, hw‘m: whose f. genit. hw‘s]
whoa int. used as a command to stop or slow a horse etc. [var. of
who'd contr. 1 who had. 2 who would.
whodunit n. (also whodunnit) colloq. a story or play about the
detection of a crime etc., esp. murder. [= who done (illiterate
for did) it?]
whoe'er poet. var. of WHOEVER.
whoever pron. (obj. whomever or colloq. whoever; poss. whosever) 1
the or any person or persons who (whoever comes is welcome). 2
though anyone (whoever else objects, I do not; whosever it is, I
want it). 3 colloq. (as an intensive) who ever; who at all
(whoever heard of such a thing?).
whole adj. & n. --adj. 1 in an uninjured, unbroken, intact, or
undiminished state (swallowed it whole; there is not a plate
left whole). 2 not less than; all there is of; entire, complete
(waited a whole year; tell the whole truth; the whole school
knows). 3 (of blood or milk etc.) with no part removed. --n.
1 a thing complete in itself. 2 all there is of a thing (spent
the whole of the summer by the sea). 3 (foll. by of) all
members, inhabitants, etc., of (the whole of London knows it).
Ьas a whole as a unity; not as separate parts. go the whole hog
see HOG. on the whole taking everything relevant into account;
in general (it was, on the whole, a good report; they behaved
well on the whole). whole cloth cloth of full size as
manufactured. whole holiday a whole day taken as a holiday (cf.
half holiday). whole-life insurance life insurance for which
premiums are payable throughout the remaining life of the person
insured. whole lot see LOT. whole note esp. US Mus. =
SEMIBREVE. whole number a number without fractions; an integer.
whole-tone scale Mus. a scale consisting entirely of tones,
with no semitones. ЬЬwholeness n. [OE hal f. Gmc]
wholefood n. food which has not been unnecessarily processed or refined.
adj. made with or containing whole grains (wholegrain bread).
adj. 1 (of a person) completely devoted or committed. 2 (of an
action etc.) done with all possible effort, attention, or
sincerity; thorough. ЬЬwholeheartedly adv. wholeheartedness n.
wholemeal n. (usu. attrib.) Brit. meal of wheat or other cereals with
none of the bran or germ removed.
wholesale n., adj., adv., & v. --n. the selling of things in large
quantities to be retailed by others (cf. RETAIL). --adj. &
adv. 1 by wholesale; at a wholesale price (can get it for you
wholesale). 2 on a large scale (wholesale destruction occurred;
was handing out samples wholesale). --v.tr. sell wholesale.
ЬЬwholesaler n. [ME: orig. by whole sale]
wholesome adj. 1 promoting or indicating physical, mental, or moral
health (wholesome pursuits; a wholesome appearance). 2 prudent
(wholesome respect). ЬЬwholesomely adv. wholesomeness n. [ME,
prob. f. OE (unrecorded) halsum (as WHOLE, -SOME(1))]
n. (usu. attrib.) wheat with none of the bran or germ removed;
wholism var. of HOLISM.
wholly adv. 1 entirely; without limitation or diminution (I am wholly
at a loss). 2 purely, exclusively (a wholly bad example). [ME,
f. OE (unrecorded) hallice (as WHOLE, -LY(2))]
whom objective case of WHO.
whomever objective case of WHOEVER.
whomso archaic objective case of WHOSO.
objective case of WHOSOEVER.
whoop n. & v. (also hoop) --n. 1 a loud cry of or as of excitement
etc. 2 a long rasping indrawn breath in whooping cough.
--v.intr. utter a whoop. Ьwhooping cough an infectious
bacterial disease, esp. of children, with a series of short
violent coughs followed by a whoop. whooping swan a swan,
Cygnus cygnus, with a characteristic whooping sound in flight.
whoop it up colloq. 1 engage in revelry. 2 US make a stir.
whoopee int. & n. colloq. --int. expressing exuberant joy. --n.
exuberant enjoyment or revelry. Ьmake whoopee colloq. rejoice
noisily or hilariously. whoopee cushion a rubber cushion that
when sat on makes a sound like the breaking of wind.
whooper n. a whooping swan.
whoops int. colloq. expressing surprise or apology, esp. on making an
obvious mistake. [var. of OOPS]
whoosh v., n., & int. (also woosh) --v.intr. & tr. move or cause to
move with a rushing sound. --n. a sudden movement accompanied
by a rushing sound. --int. an exclamation imitating this.
whop v.tr. (whopped, whopping) sl. 1 thrash. 2 defeat, overcome.
[ME: var. of dial. wap, of unkn. orig.]
whopper n. sl. 1 something big of its kind. 2 a great lie.
whopping adj. sl. very big (a whopping lie; a whopping fish).
whore n. & v. --n. 1 a prostitute. 2 derog. a promiscuous woman.
--v.intr. 1 (of a man) seek or chase after whores. 2 archaic
(foll. by after) commit idolatry or iniquity. Ьwhore-house a
brothel. ЬЬwhoredom n. whorer n. [OE hore f. Gmc]
n. archaic = WHOREMONGER.
n. archaic a person who has dealings with whores.
whoreson n. archaic 1 a disliked person. 2 (attrib.) (of a person or
whorish adj. of or like a whore. ЬЬwhorishly adv. whorishness n.
whorl n. 1 a ring of leaves or other organs round a stem of a plant.
2 one turn of a spiral, esp. on a shell. 3 a complete circle in
a fingerprint. 4 archaic a small wheel on a spindle steadying
its motion. ЬЬwhorled adj. [ME wharwyl, whorwil, app. var. of
WHIRL: infl. by wharve (n.) = whorl of a spindle]
n. (pl. -ies) a bilberry. [16th c.: dial. form of
hurtleberry, ME, of unkn. orig.]
whose pron. & adj. --pron. of or belonging to which person (whose is
this book?). --adj. of whom or which (whose book is this?; the
man, whose name was Tim; the house whose roof was damaged).
whoseso archaic poss. of WHOSO.
poss. of WHOSOEVER.
whosever poss. of WHOEVER.
whoso pron. (obj. whomso; poss. whoseso) archaic = WHOEVER. [ME, =
WHO + SO(1), f. OE swa hwa swa]
why adv., int., & n. --adv. 1 a for what reason or purpose (why
did you do it?; I do not know why you came). b on what grounds
(why do you say that?). 2 (prec. by reason etc.) for which (the
reasons why I did it). --int. expressing: 1 surprised discovery
or recognition (why, it's you!). 2 impatience (why, of course I
do!). 3 reflection (why, yes, I think so). 4 objection (why,
what is wrong with it?). --n. (pl. whys) a reason or
explanation (esp. whys and wherefores). Ьwhy so? on what
grounds?; for what reason or purpose? [OE hwi, hwy instr. of
hw‘t WHAT f. Gmc]
whydah n. (also whidah) any small African weaver-bird of the genus
Vidua, the male having mainly black plumage and tail-feathers of
great length. [orig. widow-bird, altered f. assoc. with Whidah
(now Ouidah) in Benin]
WI abbr. 1 West Indies. 2 Brit. Women's Institute. 3 US
Wisconsin (in official postal use).
wich- var. of WYCH-.
wick(1) n. 1 a strip or thread of fibrous or spongy material feeding a
flame with fuel in a candle, lamp, etc. 2 Surgery a gauze strip
inserted in a wound to drain it. Ьdip one's wick coarse sl.
(of a man) have sexual intercourse. get on a person's wick
Brit. colloq. annoy a person. [OE weoce, -weoc (cf. MDu.
wiecke, MLG weke), of unkn. orig.]
wick(2) n. dial. exc. in compounds e.g. bailiwick, and in place-names
e.g. Hampton Wick, Warwick 1 a town, hamlet, or district. 2 a
dairy farm. [OE wic, prob. f. Gmc f. L vicus street, village]
wicked adj. (wickeder, wickedest) 1 sinful, iniquitous, given to or
involving immorality. 2 spiteful, ill-tempered; intending or
intended to give pain. 3 playfully malicious. 4 colloq. foul;
very bad; formidable (wicked weather; a wicked cough). 5 sl.
excellent, remarkable. ЬWicked Bible an edition of 1631, with
the misprinted commandment 'thou shalt commit adultery'.
ЬЬwickedly adv. wickedness n. [ME f. obs. wick (perh. adj.
use of OE wicca wizard) + -ED(1) as in wretched]
wicker n. plaited twigs or osiers etc. as material for chairs,
baskets, mats, etc. [ME, f. E.Scand.: cf. Sw. viker willow,
rel. to vika bend]
n. 1 wicker. 2 things made of wicker.
wicket n. 1 Cricket a a set of three stumps with the bails in position
defended by a batsman. b the ground between two wickets. c the
state of this (a slow wicket). d an instance of a batsman being
got out (bowler has taken four wickets). e a pair of batsmen
batting at the same time (a third-wicket partnership). 2 (in
full wicket-door or -gate) a small door or gate esp. beside or
in a larger one or closing the lower part only of a doorway. 3
US an aperture in a door or wall usu. closed with a sliding
panel. 4 US a croquet hoop. Ьat the wicket Cricket 1 batting.
2 by the wicket-keeper (caught at the wicket). keep wicket
Cricket be a wicket-keeper. on a good (or sticky) wicket
colloq. in a favourable (or unfavourable) position.
wicket-keeper Cricket the fieldsman stationed close behind a
batsman's wicket. [ME f. AF & ONF wiket, OF guichet, of uncert.
wickiup n. an American Indian hut of a frame covered with grass etc.
var. of WITHERSHINS.
wide adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 a measuring much or more than other
things of the same kind across or from side to side. b
considerable; more than is needed (a wide margin). 2 (following
a measurement) in width (a metre wide). 3 extending far;
embracing much; of great extent (has a wide range; has wide
experience; reached a wide public). 4 not tight or close or
restricted; loose. 5 a free, liberal; unprejudiced (takes wide
views). b not specialized; general. 6 open to the full extent
(staring with wide eyes). 7 a (foll. by of) not within a
reasonable distance of. b at a considerable distance from a
point or mark. 8 Brit. sl. shrewd; skilled in sharp practice
(wide boy). 9 (in comb.) extending over the whole of
(nationwide). --adv. 1 widely. 2 to the full extent (wide
awake). 3 far from the target etc. (is shooting wide). --n. 1
Cricket a ball judged to pass the wicket beyond the batsman's
reach and so scoring a run. 2 (prec. by the) the wide world.
Ьgive a wide berth to see BERTH. wide-angle (of a lens) having
a short focal length and hence a field covering a wide angle.
wide awake 1 fully awake. 2 colloq. wary, knowing. wide ball
Cricket (sense 1 of n.). wide-eyed surprised or na‹ve. wide of
the mark see MARK(1). wide open (often foll. by to) exposed or
vulnerable (to attack etc.). wide-ranging covering an extensive
range. the wide world all the world great as it is. ЬЬwideness
n. widish adj. [OE wid (adj.), wide (adv.) f. Gmc]
wideawake n. a soft felt hat with a low crown and wide brim.
widely adv. 1 to a wide extent; far apart. 2 extensively (widely
read; widely distributed). 3 by many people (it is widely
thought that). 4 considerably; to a large degree (holds a
widely different view).
widen v.tr. & intr. make or become wider. ЬЬwidener n.
adj. widely distributed or disseminated.
widgeon n. (also wigeon) a species of dabbling duck, esp. Anas
penelope or Anas americana. [16th c.: orig. uncert.]
widget n. colloq. any gadget or device. [perh. alt. of GADGET]
widow n. & v. --n. 1 a woman who has lost her husband by death and
has not married again. 2 a woman whose husband is often away on
a specified activity (golf widow). 3 extra cards dealt
separately and taken by the highest bidder. 4 Printing the
short last line of a paragraph at the top of a page or column.
--v.tr. 1 make into a widow or widower. 2 (as widowed adj.)
bereft by the death of a spouse (my widowed mother). 3 (foll.
by of) deprive of. Ьwidow-bird a whydah. widow's cruse an
apparently small supply that proves or seems inexhaustible (see
1 Kgs. 17:10-16). widow's mite a small money contribution (see
Mark 12:42). widow's peak a V-shaped growth of hair towards the
centre of the forehead. widow's weeds see WEEDS. [OE widewe,
rel. to OHG wituwa, Skr. vidh va, L viduus bereft, widowed, Gk
eitheos unmarried man]
widower n. a man who has lost his wife by death and has not married
widowhood n. the state or period of being a widow.
width n. 1 measurement or distance from side to side. 2 a large
extent. 3 breadth or liberality of thought, views, etc. 4 a
strip of material of full width as woven. ЬЬwidthways adv.
widthwise adv. [17th c. (as WIDE, -TH(2)) replacing wideness]
wield v.tr. 1 hold and use (a weapon or tool). 2 exert or command
(power or authority etc.). ЬЬwielder n. [OE wealdan, wieldan
wieldy adj. (wieldier, wieldiest) easily wielded, controlled, or
n. a veal escalope breaded, fried, and garnished. [G, =
wife n. (pl. wives) 1 a married woman esp. in relation to her
husband. 2 archaic a woman, esp. an old or uneducated one. 3
(in comb.) a woman engaged in a specified activity (fishwife;
housewife; midwife). Ьhave (or take) to wife archaic marry (a
woman). wife-swapping colloq. exchanging wives for sexual
relations. ЬЬwifehood n. wifeless adj. wifelike adj. wifely
adj. wifeliness n. wifish adj. [OE wif woman: ult. orig.
wig(1) n. an artificial head of hair esp. to conceal baldness or as a
disguise, or worn by a judge or barrister or as period dress.
ЬЬwigged adj. (also in comb.). wigless adj. [abbr. of PERIWIG:
wig(2) v.tr. (wigged, wigging) colloq. rebuke sharply; rate. [app.
f. WIG(1) in sl. or colloq. sense 'rebuke' (19th c.)]
wigeon var. of WIDGEON.
wigging n. colloq. a reprimand.
wiggle v. & n. colloq. --v.intr. & tr. move or cause to move quickly
from side to side etc. --n. an act of wiggling. ЬЬwiggler n.
[ME f. MLG & MDu. wiggelen: cf. WAG(1), WAGGLE]
wiggly adj. (wigglier, wiggliest) colloq. 1 showing wiggles. 2
having small irregular undulations.
wight n. archaic a person (wretched wight). [OE wiht = thing,
creature, of unkn. orig.]
wigwag v.intr. (wigwagged, wigwagging) colloq. 1 move lightly to and
fro. 2 wave flags in this way in signalling. [redupl. f.
wigwam n. 1 a N. American Indian's hut or tent of skins, mats, or bark
on poles. 2 a similar structure for children etc. [Ojibwa
wigwaum, Algonquin wikiwam their house]
wilco int. colloq. expressing compliance or agreement, esp.
acceptance of instructions received by radio. [abbr. of will
wild adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 (of an animal or plant) in its
original natural state; not domesticated or cultivated (esp. of
species or varieties allied to others that are not wild). 2 not
civilized; barbarous. 3 (of scenery etc.) having a
conspicuously desolate appearance. 4 unrestrained, disorderly,
uncontrolled (a wild youth; wild hair). 5 tempestuous, violent
(a wild night). 6 a intensely eager; excited, frantic (wild
with excitement; wild delight). b (of looks, appearance, etc.)
indicating distraction. c (foll. by about) colloq.
enthusiastically devoted to (a person or subject). 7 colloq.
infuriated, angry (makes me wild). 8 haphazard, ill-aimed, rash
(a wild guess; a wild shot; a wild venture). 9 (of a horse,
game-bird, etc.) shy; easily startled. 10 colloq. exciting,
delightful. 11 (of a card) having any rank chosen by the player
holding it (the joker is wild). --adv. in a wild manner
(shooting wild). --n. 1 a wild tract. 2 a desert. Ьin the
wild in an uncultivated etc. state. in (or out in) the wilds
colloq. far from normal habitation. run wild grow or stray
unchecked or undisciplined. sow one's wild oats see OAT. wild
and woolly uncouth; lacking refinement. wild boar see BOAR.
wild card 1 see sense 11 of adj. 2 Computing a character that
will match any character or sequence of characters in a file
name etc. 3 Sport an extra player or team chosen to enter a
competition at the selectors' discretion. wild cat any of
various smallish cats, esp. the European Felis sylvestris (cf.
WILDCAT). wild-goose chase a foolish or hopeless and
unproductive quest. wild horse 1 a horse not domesticated or
broken in. 2 (in pl.) colloq. even the most powerful influence
etc. (wild horses would not drag the secret from me). wild
hyacinth = BLUEBELL 1. wild man of the woods colloq. an
orang-utan. wild rice any tall grass of the genus Zizania,
yielding edible grains. wild silk 1 silk from wild silkworms.
2 an imitation of this from short silk fibres. Wild West the
western US in a time of lawlessness in its early history.
ЬЬwildish adj. wildly adv. wildness n. [OE wilde f. Gmc]
wildcat n. & adj. --n. 1 a hot-tempered or violent person. 2 US a
bobcat see wild cat. 3 an exploratory oil well. --adj.
(attrib.) 1 esp. US reckless; financially unsound. 2 (of a
strike) sudden and unofficial.
n. = GNU. [Afrik. (as WILD, BEAST)]
wilder v.tr. archaic 1 lead astray. 2 bewilder. [perh. based on
n. 1 a desert; an uncultivated and uninhabited region. 2 part
of a garden left with an uncultivated appearance. 3 (foll. by
of) a confused assemblage of things. Ьin the wilderness out of
political office. voice in the wilderness an unheeded advocate
of reform (see Matt. 3:3 etc.). [OE wildeornes f. wild deor
wildfire n. hist. 1 a combustible liquid, esp. Greek fire, formerly
used in warfare. 2 = WILL-O'-THE-WISP. Ьspread like wildfire
spread with great speed.
wildfowl n. (pl. same) a game-bird, esp. an aquatic one.
wilding n. (also wildling) 1 a plant sown by natural agency, esp. a
wild crab-apple. 2 the fruit of such a plant. [WILD + -ING(3)]
wildlife n. wild animals collectively.
wildwood n. poet. uncultivated or unfrequented woodland.
wile n. & v. --n. (usu. in pl.) a stratagem; a trick or cunning
procedure. --v.tr. (foll. by away, into, etc.) lure or entice.
[ME wil, perh. f. Scand. (ON v‚l craft)]
wilful adj. (US willful) 1 (of an action or state) intentional,
deliberate (wilful murder; wilful neglect; wilful disobedience).
2 (of a person) obstinate, headstrong. ЬЬwilfully adv.
wilfulness n. [ME f. WILL(2) + -FUL]
wilga n. Austral. a small tree of the genus Geijera, with white
wiliness see WILY.
will(1) v.aux. & tr. (3rd sing. present will; past would) (foll. by
infin. without to, or absol.; present and past only in use) 1
(in the 2nd and 3rd persons, and often in the 1st: see SHALL)
expressing the future tense in statements, commands, or
questions (you will regret this; they will leave at once; will
you go to the party?). 2 (in the 1st person) expressing a wish
or intention (I will return soon). °For the other persons in
senses 1, 2, see SHALL. 3 expressing desire, consent, or
inclination (will you have a sandwich?; come when you will; the
door will not open). 4 expressing ability or capacity (the jar
will hold a kilo). 5 expressing habitual or inevitable tendency
(accidents will happen; will sit there for hours). 6 expressing
probability or expectation (that will be my wife). Ьwill do
colloq. expressing willingness to carry out a request. [OE
wyllan, (unrecorded) willan f. Gmc: rel. to L volo]
will(2) n. & v. --n. 1 the faculty by which a person decides or is
regarded as deciding on and initiating action (the mind consists
of the understanding and the will). 2 (also will-power) control
exercised by deliberate purpose over impulse; self-control (has
a strong will; overcame his shyness by will-power). 3 a
deliberate or fixed desire or intention (a will to live). 4
energy of intention; the power of effecting one's intentions or
dominating others. 5 directions (usu. written) in legal form
for the disposition of one's property after death (make one's
will). 6 disposition towards others (good will). 7 archaic
what one desires or ordains (thy will be done). --v.tr. 1 have
as the object of one's will; intend unconditionally (what God
wills; willed that we should succeed). 2 (absol.) exercise
will-power. 3 instigate or impel or compel by the exercise of
will-power (you can will yourself into contentment). 4 bequeath
by the terms of a will (shall will my money to charity). Ьat
will 1 whenever one pleases. 2 Law able to be evicted without
notice (tenant at will). have one's will obtain what one wants.
what is your will? what do you wish done? where there's a will
there's a way determination will overcome any obstacle. a will
of one's own obstinacy; wilfulness of character. with the best
will in the world however good one's intentions. with a will
energetically or resolutely. ЬЬwilled adj. (also in comb.).
willer n. will-less adj. [OE willa f. Gmc]
willet n. (pl. same) a large N. American wader, Catoptrophorus
semipalmatus. [pill-will-willet, imit. of its cry]
willful US var. of WILFUL.
willie var. of WILLY.
willies n.pl. colloq. nervous discomfort (esp. give or get the
willies). [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
willing adj. & n. --adj. 1 ready to consent or undertake (a willing
ally; am willing to do it). 2 given or done etc. by a willing
person (willing hands; willing help). --n. cheerful intention
(show willing). ЬЬwillingly adv. willingness n.
n. 1 a phosphorescent light seen on marshy ground, perhaps
resulting from the combustion of gases. 2 an elusive person. 3
a delusive hope or plan. [orig. Will with the wisp: wisp =
handful of (lighted) hay etc.]
willow n. 1 a tree or shrub of the genus Salix, growing usu. near
water in temperate climates, with small flowers borne on
catkins, and pliant branches yielding osiers and timber for
cricket-bats, baskets, etc. 2 a cricket-bat. Ьwillow grouse a
common European grouse, Lagopus lagopus, with brown breeding
plumage and white winter plumage. willow-herb any plant of the
genus Epilobium etc., esp. one with leaves like a willow and
pale purple flowers. willow-pattern a conventional design
representing a Chinese scene, often with a willow tree, of blue
on white porcelain, stoneware, or earthenware. willow-warbler
(or -wren) a small woodland bird, Phylloscopus trochilus, with a
tuneful song. [OE welig]
willowy adj. 1 having or bordered by willows. 2 lithe and slender.
willy n. (also willie) (pl. -ies) Brit. sl. the penis.
adv. & adj. --adv. whether one likes it or not. --adj.
existing or occurring willy-nilly. [later spelling of will I,
nill I I am willing, I am unwilling]
n. (pl. -ies) Austral. a cyclone or dust-storm. [Aboriginal]
wilt(1) v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (of a plant, leaf, or flower) wither,
droop. 2 intr. (of a person) lose one's energy, flag, tire,
droop. 3 tr. cause to wilt. --n. a plant-disease causing
wilting. [orig. dial.: perh. alt. f. wilk, welk, of LG or Du.
wilt(2) archaic 2nd person sing. of WILL(1).
Wilton n. a kind of woven carpet with a thick pile. [Wilton in S.
Wilts. abbr. Wiltshire.
wily adj. (wilier, wiliest) full of wiles; crafty, cunning.
ЬЬwilily adv. wiliness n.
wimp n. colloq. a feeble or ineffectual person. ЬЬwimpish adj.
wimpishly adv. wimpishness n. wimpy adj. [20th c.: orig.
wimple n. & v. --n. a linen or silk head-dress covering the neck and
the sides of the face, formerly worn by women and still worn by
some nuns. --v.tr. & intr. arrange or fall in folds. [OE
Wimpy n. (pl. -ies) propr. a hamburger served in a plain bun.
n. a device for generating an electric charge by turning glass
discs in opposite directions. [J. Wimshurst, Engl. engineer d.
win v. & n. --v. (winning; past and past part. won) 1 tr. acquire
or secure as a result of a fight, contest, bet, litigation, or
some other effort (won some money; won my admiration). 2 tr. be
victorious in (a fight, game, race, etc.). 3 intr. a be the
victor; win a race or contest etc. (who won?; persevere, and you
will win). b (foll. by through, free, etc.) make one's way or
become by successful effort. 4 tr. reach by effort (win the
summit; win the shore). 5 tr. obtain (ore) from a mine. 6 tr.
dry (hay etc.) by exposure to the air. --n. victory in a game
or bet etc. Ьwin the day be victorious in battle, argument,
etc. win over persuade, gain the support of. win one's spurs 1
colloq. gain distinction or fame. 2 hist. gain a knighthood.
win through (or out) overcome obstacles. you can't win colloq.
there is no way to succeed. you can't win them all colloq. a
resigned expression of consolation on failure. ЬЬwinnable adj.
[OE winnan toil, endure: cf. OHG winnan, ON vinna]
wince(1) n. & v. --n. a start or involuntary shrinking movement showing
pain or distress. --v.intr. give a wince. ЬЬwincer n.
wincingly adv. [ME f. OF guenchir turn aside: cf. WINCH, WINK]
wince(2) n. a roller for moving textile fabric through a dyeing-vat.
[var. of WINCH]
wincey n. (pl. winceys) a strong lightweight fabric of wool and
cotton or linen. [orig. Sc.: app. f. woolsey in
n. Brit. a lightweight napped flannelette used esp. for
winch n. & v. --n. 1 the crank of a wheel or axle. 2 a windlass. 3
the reel of a fishing-rod. 4 = WINCE(2). --v.tr. lift with a
winch. ЬЬwincher n. [OE wince f. Gmc: cf. WINCE(1)]
n. 1 propr. a breech-loading repeating rifle. 2 (in full
Winchester disk) Computing a hermetically sealed data-storage
device with high capacity (so called because its original
numerical designation corresponded to that of the rifle's
calibre). [O. F. Winchester d. 1880, US manufacturer of the
wind(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a air in more or less rapid natural motion,
esp. from an area of high pressure to one of low pressure. b a
current of wind blowing from a specified direction or otherwise
defined (north wind; contrary wind). 2 a breath as needed in
physical exertion or in speech. b the power of breathing
without difficulty while running or making a similar continuous
effort (let me recover my wind). c a spot below the centre of
the chest where a blow temporarily paralyses breathing. 3 mere
empty words; meaningless rhetoric. 4 gas generated in the
bowels etc. by indigestion; flatulence. 5 a an artifically
produced current of air, esp. for sounding an organ or other
wind instrument. b air stored for use or used as a current. c
the wind instruments of an orchestra collectively (poor balance
between wind and strings). 6 a scent carried by the wind,
indicating the presence or proximity of an animal etc. --v.tr.
1 exhaust the wind of by exertion or a blow. 2 renew the wind
of by rest (stopped to wind the horses). 3 make breathe quickly
and deeply by exercise. 4 make (a baby) bring up wind after
feeding. 5 detect the presence of by a scent. 6 (past and past
part. winded or wound) poet. sound (a bugle or call) by
blowing. Ьbefore the wind helped by the wind's force. between
wind and water at a vulnerable point. close to (or near) the
wind 1 sailing as nearly against the wind as is consistent with
using its force. 2 colloq. verging on indecency or dishonesty.
get wind of 1 smell out. 2 begin to suspect; hear a rumour of.
get (or have) the wind up colloq. be alarmed or frightened.
how (or which way) the wind blows (or lies) 1 what is the state
of opinion. 2 what developments are likely. in the wind
happening or about to happen. in the wind's eye directly
against the wind. like the wind swiftly. off the wind Naut.
with the wind on the quarter. on a wind Naut. against a wind
on either bow. on the wind (of a sound or scent) carried by the
wind. put the wind up colloq. alarm or frighten. take wind be
rumoured; become known. take the wind out of a person's sails
frustrate a person by anticipating an action or remark etc. to
the winds (or four winds) 1 in all directions. 2 into a state
of abandonment or neglect. wind and weather exposure to the
effects of the elements. wind band a group of wind instruments
as a band or section of an orchestra. wind-break a row of trees
or a fence or wall etc. serving to break the force of the wind.
wind-chill the cooling effect of wind blowing on a surface.
wind-cone = wind-sock. wind-force the force of the wind esp. as
measured on the Beaufort etc. scale. wind-gap a dried-up former
river valley through ridges or hills. wind-gauge 1 an
anemometer. 2 an apparatus attached to the sights of a gun
enabling allowance to be made for the wind in shooting. 3 a
device showing the amount of wind in an organ. wind instrument
a musical instrument in which sound is produced by a current of
air, esp. the breath. wind-jammer a merchant sailing-ship.
wind machine a device for producing a blast of air or the sound
of wind. wind (or winds) of change a force or influence for
reform. wind-rose a diagram of the relative frequency of wind
directions at a place. wind-row a line of raked hay,
corn-sheaves, peats, etc., for drying by the wind. wind-sail a
canvas funnel conveying air to the lower parts of a ship. wind
shear a variation in wind velocity at right angles to the wind's
direction. wind-sleeve = wind-sock. wind-sock a canvas
cylinder or cone on a mast to show the direction of the wind at
an airfield etc. wind-tunnel a tunnel-like device to produce an
air-stream past models of aircraft etc. for the study of wind
effects on them. ЬЬwindless adj. [OE f. Gmc]
wind(2) v. & n. --v. (past and past part. wound) 1 intr. go in a
circular, spiral, curved, or crooked course (a winding
staircase; the path winds up the hill). 2 tr. make (one's way)
by such a course (wind your way up to bed; wound their way into
our affections). 3 tr. wrap closely; surround with or as with a
coil (wound the blanket round me; wound my arms round the child;
wound the child in my arms). 4 a tr. coil; provide with a
coiled thread etc. (wind the ribbon on to the card; wound cotton
on a reel; winding wool into a ball). b intr. coil; (of wool
etc.) coil into a ball (the creeper winds round the pole; the
wool wound into a ball). 5 tr. wind up (a clock etc.). 6 tr.
hoist or draw with a windlass etc. (wound the cable-car up the
mountain). --n. 1 a bend or turn in a course. 2 a single turn
when winding. Ьwind down 1 lower by winding. 2 (of a
mechanism) unwind. 3 (of a person) relax. 4 draw gradually to
a close. wind-down n. colloq. a gradual lessening of
excitement or reduction of activity. wind off unwind (string,
wool, etc.). wind round one's finger see FINGER. wind up 1
coil the whole of (a piece of string etc.). 2 tighten the
coiling or coiled spring of (esp. a clock etc.). 3 a colloq.
increase the tension or intensity of (wound myself up to fever
pitch). b irritate or provoke (a person) to the point of anger.
4 bring to a conclusion; end (wound up his speech). 5 Commerce
a arrange the affairs of and dissolve (a company). b (of a
company) cease business and go into liquidation. 6 colloq.
arrive finally; end in a specified state or circumstance (you'll
wind up in prison; wound up owing њ100). wind-up n. 1 a
conclusion; a finish. 2 a state of anxiety; the provocation of
this. wound up adj. (of a person) excited or tense or angry.
[OE windan f. Gmc, rel. to WANDER, WEND]
windage n. 1 the friction of air against the moving part of a machine.
2 a the effect of the wind in deflecting a missile. b an
allowance for this. 3 the difference between the diameter of a
gun's bore and its projectile, allowing the escape of gas.
windbag n. colloq. a person who talks a lot but says little of any
windbound adj. unable to sail because of contrary winds.
n. US = WINDCHEATER.
windburn n. inflammation of the skin caused by exposure to the wind.
n. a kind of wind-resistant outer jacket with close-fitting
neck, cuffs, and lower edge.
winder n. a winding mechanism esp. of a clock or watch.
windfall n. 1 an apple or other fruit blown to the ground by the wind.
2 a piece of unexpected good fortune, esp. a legacy.
n. an anemone.
windhover n. Brit. a kestrel.
winding n. 1 in senses of WIND(2) v. 2 curved or sinuous motion or
movement. 3 a a thing that is wound round or coiled. b Electr.
coils of wire as a conductor round an armature etc.
Ьwinding-engine a machine for hoisting. winding-sheet a sheet
in which a corpse is wrapped for burial.
windlass n. & v. --n. a machine with a horizontal axle for hauling or
hoisting. --v.tr. hoist or haul with a windlass. [alt. (perh.
by assoc. with dial. windle to wind) of obs. windas f. OF
guindas f. ON vind ss f. vinda WIND(2) + ss pole]
n. archaic an old dry stalk of grass. [OE windelstreaw grass
for plaiting f. windel basket (as WIND(2), -LE(1)) + streaw
windmill n. 1 a mill worked by the action of the wind on its sails. 2
esp. Brit. a toy consisting of a stick with curved vanes
attached that revolve in a wind. Ьthrow one's cap (or bonnet)
over the windmill act recklessly or unconventionally. tilt at
(or fight) windmills attack an imaginary enemy or grievance.
window n. 1 a an opening in a wall, roof, or vehicle etc., usu. with
glass in fixed, sliding, or hinged frames, to admit light or air
etc. and allow the occupants to see out. b the glass filling
this opening (have broken the window). 2 a space for display
behind the front window of a shop. 3 an aperture in a wall etc.
through which customers are served in a bank, ticket office,
etc. 4 an opportunity to observe or learn. 5 an opening or
transparent part in an envelope to show an address. 6 a part of
a VDU display selected to show a particular category or part of
the data. 7 a an interval during which atmospheric and
astronomical circumstances are suitable for the launch of a
spacecraft. b any interval or opportunity for action. 8 strips
of metal foil dispersed in the air to obstruct radar detection.
9 a range of electromagnetic wavelengths for which a medium is
transparent. Ьout of the window colloq. no longer taken into
account. window-box a box placed on an outside window-sill for
growing flowers. window-cleaner a person who is employed to
clean windows. window-dressing 1 the art of arranging a display
in a shop-window etc. 2 an adroit presentation of facts etc. to
give a deceptively favourable impression. window-ledge =
window-sill. window-pane a pane of glass in a window.
window-seat 1 a seat below a window, esp. in a bay or alcove. 2
a seat next to a window in an aircraft, train, etc. window-shop
(-shopped, -shopping) look at goods displayed in shop-windows,
usu. without buying anything. window-shopper a person who
window-shops. window-sill a sill below a window. window tax
Brit. hist. a tax on windows or similar openings (abolished in
1851). ЬЬwindowed adj. (also in comb.). windowless adj. [ME
f. ON vindauga (as WIND(1), EYE)]
windowing n. Computing the selection of part of a stored image for
display or enlargement.
windpipe n. the air-passage from the throat to the lungs; the trachea.
n. Brit. a screen of glass at the front of a motor vehicle.
Ьwindscreen wiper a device consisting of a rubber blade on an
arm, moving in an arc, for keeping a windscreen clear of rain
n. US = WINDSCREEN.
Windsor n. (usu. attrib.) denoting or relating to the British Royal
Family since 1917. [Windsor in S. England, site of the royal
residence at Windsor Castle]
n. a wooden dining chair with a semicircular back supported by
n. the sport of riding on water on a sailboard. ЬЬwindsurf
v.intr. windsurfer n.
windswept adj. exposed to or swept back by the wind.
windward adj., adv., & n. --adj. & adv. on the side from which the wind
is blowing (opp. LEEWARD). --n. the windward region, side, or
direction (to windward; on the windward of). Ьget to windward
of 1 place oneself there to avoid the smell of. 2 gain an
windy adj. (windier, windiest) 1 stormy with wind (a windy night). 2
exposed to the wind; windswept (a windy plain). 3 generating or
characterized by flatulence. 4 colloq. wordy, verbose, empty (a
windy speech). 5 colloq. nervous, frightened. ЬЬwindily adv.
windiness n. [OE windig (as WIND(1), -Y(1))]
wine n. & v. --n. 1 fermented grape-juice as an alcoholic drink. 2
a fermented drink resembling this made from other fruits etc. as
specified (elderberry wine; ginger wine). 3 the dark-red colour
of red wine. --v. 1 intr. drink wine. 2 tr. entertain to
wine. Ьwine and dine entertain to or have a meal with wine.
wine bar a bar or small restaurant where wine is the main drink
available. wine bottle a glass bottle for wine, the standard
size holding 75 cl or 26 2/3 fl. oz. wine box a square carton
of wine with a dispensing tap. wine cellar 1 a cellar for
storing wine. 2 the contents of this. wine-grower a cultivator
of grapes for wine. wine list a list of wines available in a
restaurant etc. wine-tasting 1 judging the quality of wine by
tasting it. 2 an occasion for this. wine vinegar vinegar made
from wine as distinct from malt. wine waiter a waiter
responsible for serving wine. ЬЬwineless adj. [OE win f. Gmc
f. L vinum]
wineberry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a deciduous bristly shrub, Rubus
phoenicolasius, from China and Japan, producing scarlet berries
used in cookery. b this berry. 2 = MAKO(2).
n. a tippler or drunkard. ЬЬwinebibbing n. & adj. [WINE + bib
wineglass n. 1 a glass for wine, usu. with a stem and foot. 2 the
contents of this, a wineglassful.
n. (pl. -fuls) 1 the capacity of a wineglass, esp. of the size
used for sherry, as a measure of liquid, about four tablespoons.
2 the contents of a wineglass.
winepress n. a press in which grapes are squeezed in making wine.
winery n. (pl. -ies) esp. US an establishment where wine is made.
wineskin n. a whole skin of a goat etc. sown up and used to hold wine.
wing n. & v. --n. 1 each of the limbs or organs by which a bird,
bat, or insect is able to fly. 2 a rigid horizontal winglike
structure forming a supporting part of an aircraft. 3 part of a
building etc. which projects or is extended in a certain
direction (lived in the north wing). 4 a a forward player at
either end of a line in football, hockey, etc. b the side part
of a playing-area. 5 (in pl.) the sides of a theatre stage out
of view of the audience. 6 a section of a political party in
terms of the extremity of its views. 7 a flank of a battle
array (the cavalry were massed on the left wing). 8 Brit. the
part of a motor vehicle covering a wheel. 9 a an air-force unit
of several squadrons or groups. b (in pl.) a pilot's badge in
the RAF etc. (get one's wings). 10 Anat. & Bot. a lateral part
or projection of an organ or structure. --v. 1 intr. & tr.
travel or traverse on wings or in an aircraft (winging through
the air; am winging my way home). 2 tr. wound in a wing or an
arm. 3 tr. equip with wings. 4 tr. enable to fly; send in
flight (fear winged my steps; winged an arrow towards them).
Ьgive (or lend) wings to speed up (a person or a thing). on the
wing flying or in flight. on a wing and a prayer with only the
slightest chance of success. spread (or stretch) one's wings
develop one's powers fully. take under one's wing treat as a
prot‚g‚. take wing fly away; soar. waiting in the wings
holding oneself in readiness. wing-beat one complete set of
motions with a wing in flying. wing-case the horny cover of an
insect's wing. wing-chair a chair with side-pieces projecting
forwards at the top of a high back. wing-collar a man's high
stiff collar with turned-down corners. wing commander an RAF
officer next below group captain. winged words highly apposite
or significant words. wing-game game-birds. wing-nut a nut
with projections for the fingers to turn it on a screw.
wing-span (or -spread) measurement right across the wings of a
bird or aircraft. wing-stroke = wing-beat. wing-tip the outer
end of an aircraft's or a bird's wing. ЬЬwinged adj. (also in
comb.). wingless adj. winglet n. winglike adj. [ME pl.
wenge, -en, -es f. ON v‘ngir, pl. of v‘ngr]
wingding n. sl. 1 esp. US a wild party. 2 US a drug addict's real or
feigned seizure. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
winger n. 1 a player on a wing in football, hockey, etc. 2 (in comb.)
a member of a specified political wing (left-winger).
wink v. & n. --v. 1 a tr. close and open (one eye or both eyes)
quickly. b intr. close and open an eye. 2 intr. (often foll.
by at) wink one eye as a signal of friendship or greeting or to
convey a message to a person. 3 intr. (of a light etc.)
twinkle; shine or flash intermittently. --n. 1 the act or an
instance of winking, esp. as a signal etc. 2 colloq. a brief
moment of sleep (didn't sleep a wink). Ьas easy as winking
colloq. very easy. in a wink very quickly. wink at 1
purposely avoid seeing; pretend not to notice. 2 connive at (a
wrongdoing etc.). [OE wincian f. Gmc: cf. WINCE(1), WINCH]
winker n. 1 a flashing indicator light on a motor vehicle. 2 (usu. in
pl.) a horse's blinker.
winkle n. & v. --n. any edible marine gastropod mollusc of the genus
Littorina; a periwinkle. --v.tr. (foll. by out) esp. Brit.
extract or eject (winkled the information out of them).
Ьwinkle-picker sl. a shoe with a long pointed toe. ЬЬwinkler
n. [abbr. of PERIWINKLE(2): cf. WIG(1)]
winner n. 1 a person, racehorse, etc. that wins. 2 colloq. a
successful or highly promising idea, enterprise, etc. (the new
scheme seemed a winner).
winning adj. & n. --adj. 1 having or bringing victory or an advantage
(the winning entry; a winning stroke). 2 attractive, persuasive
(a winning smile; winning ways). --n. (in pl.) money won esp.
in betting etc. Ьwinning-post a post marking the end of a race.
ЬЬwinningly adv. winningness n.
winnow v.tr. 1 blow (grain) free of chaff etc. by an air-current. 2
(foll. by out, away, from, etc.) get rid of (chaff etc.) from
grain. 3 a sift, separate; clear of refuse or inferior
specimens. b sift or examine (evidence for falsehood etc.). c
clear, sort, or weed out (rubbish etc.). 4 poet. a fan (the
air with wings). b flap (wings). c stir (the hair etc.).
ЬЬwinnower n. (in senses 1, 2). [OE windwian (as WIND(1))]
wino n. (pl. -os) sl. a habitual excessive drinker of cheap wine;
winsome adj. (of a person, looks, or manner) winning, attractive,
engaging. ЬЬwinsomely adv. winsomeness n. [OE wynsum f. wyn
JOY + -SOME(1)]
winter n. & v. --n. 1 the coldest season of the year, in the N.
hemisphere from December to February and in the S. hemisphere
from June to August. 2 Astron. the period from the winter
solstice to the vernal equinox. 3 a bleak or lifeless period or
region etc. (nuclear winter). 4 poet. a year (esp. of a
person's age) (a man of fifty winters). 5 (attrib.) a
characteristic of or suitable for winter (winter light; winter
clothes). b (of fruit) ripening late or keeping until or during
winter. c (of wheat or other crops) sown in autumn for
harvesting the following year. --v. 1 intr. (usu. foll. by at,
in) pass the winter (likes to winter in the Canaries). 2 tr.
keep or feed (plants, cattle) during winter. Ьwinter aconite
see ACONITE 2. winter cress any bitter-tasting cress of the
genus Barbarea, esp. B. vulgaris. winter garden a garden or
conservatory of plants flourishing in winter. winter jasmine a
jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, with yellow flowers. winter
quarters a place where soldiers spend the winter. winter sleep
hibernation. winter solstice see SOLSTICE. winter sports
sports performed on snow or ice esp. in winter (e.g. skiing and
ice-skating). winter-tide poet. = WINTERTIME. ЬЬwinterer n.
winterless adj. winterly adj. [OE f. Gmc, prob. rel. to WET]
n. any of several plants esp. of the genus Pyrola or Gaultheria
remaining green through the winter.
winterize v.tr. (also -ise) esp. US adapt for operation or use in cold
weather. ЬЬwinterization n.
n. the season of winter.
wintry adj. (also wintery) (; wintrier, wintriest) 1 characteristic of
winter (wintry weather; a wintry sun; a wintry landscape). 2
(of a smile, greeting, etc.) lacking warmth or enthusiasm.
ЬЬwintrily adv. wintriness n. [OE wintrig, or f. WINTER]
winy adj. (winier, winiest) resembling wine in taste or appearance.
wipe v. & n. --v.tr. 1 clean or dry the surface of by rubbing with
the hands or a cloth etc. 2 rub (a cloth) over a surface. 3
spread (a liquid etc.) over a surface by rubbing. 4 (often
foll. by away, off, etc.) a clear or remove by wiping (wiped
the mess off the table; wipe away your tears). b remove or
eliminate completely (the village was wiped off the map). 5 a
erase (data, a recording, etc., from a magnetic medium). b
erase data from (the medium). 6 Austral. & NZ sl. reject or
dismiss (a person or idea). --n. 1 an act of wiping (give the
floor a wipe). 2 a piece of disposable absorbent cloth, usu.
treated with a cleansing agent, for wiping something clean
(antiseptic wipes). Ьwipe down clean (esp. a vertical surface)
by wiping. wipe a person's eye colloq. get the better of a
person. wipe the floor with colloq. inflict a humiliating
defeat on. wipe off annul (a debt etc.). wipe out 1 a destroy,
annihilate (the whole population was wiped out). b obliterate
(wiped it out of my memory). 2 sl. murder. 3 clean the inside
of. 4 avenge (an insult etc.). wipe-out n. 1 the obliteration
of one radio signal by another. 2 an instance of destruction or
annihilation. 3 sl. a fall from a surfboard. wipe the slate
clean see SLATE. wipe up 1 Brit. dry (dishes etc.). 2 take up
(a liquid etc.) by wiping. ЬЬwipeable adj. [OE wipian: cf. OHG
wifan wind round, Goth. weipan crown: rel. to WHIP]
wiper n. 1 = windscreen wiper. 2 Electr. a moving contact. 3 a cam
WIPO abbr. World Intellectual Property Organization.
wire n. & v. --n. 1 a metal drawn out into the form of a thread or
thin flexible rod. b a piece of this. c (attrib.) made of
wire. 2 a length or quantity of wire used for fencing or to
carry an electric current etc. 3 esp. US colloq. a telegram or
cablegram. --v.tr. 1 provide, fasten, strengthen, etc., with
wire. 2 (often foll. by up) Electr. install electrical circuits
in (a building, piece of equipment, etc.). 3 esp. US colloq.
telegraph (wired me that they were coming). 4 snare (an animal
etc.) with wire. 5 (usu. in passive) Croquet obstruct (a ball,
shot, or player) by a hoop. Ьby wire by telegraph. get one's
wires crossed become confused and misunderstood. wire brush 1 a
brush with tough wire bristles for cleaning hard surfaces, esp.
metal. 2 a brush with wire strands brushed against cymbals to
produce a soft metallic sound. wire cloth cloth woven from
wire. wire-cutter a tool for cutting wire. wire gauge 1 a
gauge for measuring the diameter of wire etc. 2 a standard
series of sizes in which wire etc. is made. wire gauze a stiff
gauze woven from wire. wire grass any of various grasses with
tough wiry stems. wire-haired (esp. of a dog) having stiff or
wiry hair. wire mattress a mattress supported by wires
stretched in a frame. wire netting netting of wire twisted into
meshes. wire rope rope made by twisting wires together as
strands. wire-tapper a person who indulges in wire-tapping.
wire-tapping the practice of tapping (see TAP(1) v. 4) a
telephone or telegraph line to eavesdrop. wire-walker an
acrobat performing feats on a wire rope. wire wheel a
vehicle-wheel with spokes of wire. wire wool a mass of fine
wire for cleaning. ЬЬwirer n. [OE wir]
wiredraw v.tr. (past -drew; past part. -drawn) 1 draw (metal) out into
wire. 2 elongate; protract unduly. 3 (esp. as wiredrawn adj.)
refine or apply or press (an argument etc.) with idle or
wireless n. & adj. --n. 1 esp. Brit. a (in full wireless set) a radio
receiving set. b the transmission and reception of radio
signals. °Now old-fashioned, esp. with ref. to broadcasting,
and superseded by radio. 2 = wireless telegraphy. --adj.
lacking or not requiring wires. Ьwireless telegraphy =
wireman n. (pl. -men) 1 esp. US an installer or repairer of electric
wires. 2 a journalist working for a telegraphic news agency.
n. esp. US a politician etc. who exerts a hidden influence.
wireworm n. the larva of the click beetle causing damage to crop plants.
wiring n. 1 a system of wires providing electrical circuits. 2 the
installation of this (came to do the wiring).
wiry adj. (wirier, wiriest) 1 tough and flexible as wire. 2 (of a
person) thin and sinewy; untiring. 3 made of wire. ЬЬwirily
adv. wiriness n.
Wis. abbr. Wisconsin.
wis v.intr. archaic know well. [orig. I wis = obs. iwis
'certainly' f. OE gewis, erron. taken as 'I know' and as pres.
tense of wist (WIT(2))]
Wisd. abbr. Wisdom of Solomon (Apocrypha).
wisdom n. 1 the state of being wise. 2 experience and knowledge
together with the power of applying them critically or
practically. 3 sagacity, prudence; common sense. 4 wise
sayings, thoughts, etc., regarded collectively. Ьin his (or her
etc.) wisdom usu. iron. thinking it would be best (the
committee in its wisdom decided to abandon the project). wisdom
tooth each of four hindmost molars not usu. cut before 20 years
of age. [OE wisdom (as WISE(1), -DOM)]
wise(1) adj. & v. --adj. 1 a having experience and knowledge and
judiciously applying them. b (of an action, behaviour, etc.)
determined by or showing or in harmony with such experience and
knowledge. 2 sagacious, prudent, sensible, discreet. 3 having
knowledge. 4 suggestive of wisdom (with a wise nod of the
head). 5 US colloq. a alert, crafty. b (often foll. by to)
having (usu. confidential) information (about). --v.tr. & intr.
(foll. by up) esp. US colloq. put or get wise. Ьbe (or get)
wise to colloq. become aware of. no (or none the or not much)
wiser knowing no more than before. put a person wise (often
foll. by to) colloq. inform a person (about). wise after the
event able to understand and assess an event or circumstance
after its implications have become obvious. wise guy colloq. a
know-all. wise man a wizard, esp. one of the Magi. wise saw a
proverbial saying. without anyone's being the wiser undetected.
ЬЬwisely adv. [OE wis f. Gmc: see WIT(2)]
wise(2) n. archaic way, manner, or degree (in solemn wise; on this
wise). Ьin no wise not at all. [OE wise f. Gmc f. WIT(2)]
-wise suffix forming adjectives and adverbs of manner (crosswise;
clockwise; lengthwise) or respect (moneywise) (cf. -WAYS).
°More fanciful phrase-based combinations, such as
employment-wise (= as regards employment) are colloq., and
restricted to informal contexts. [as WISE(2)]
wiseacre n. a person who affects a wise manner. [MDu. wijsseggher
soothsayer, prob. f. OHG wissago, wizago, assim. to WISE(1),
wisecrack n. & v. colloq. --n. a smart pithy remark. --v.intr. make a
wisecrack. ЬЬwisecracker n.
wisent n. the European bison, Bison bonasus. [G: cf. BISON]
wish v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by for) have or express a
desire or aspiration for (wish for happiness). 2 tr. (often
foll. by that + clause, usu. with that omitted) have as a desire
or aspiration (I wish I could sing; I wished that I was dead).
3 tr. want or demand, usu. so as to bring about what is wanted
(I wish to go; I wish you to do it; I wish it done). 4 tr.
express one's hopes for (we wish you well; wish them no harm;
wished us a pleasant journey). 5 tr. (foll. by on, upon)
colloq. foist on a person. --n. 1 a a desire, request, or
aspiration. b an expression of this. 2 a thing desired (got my
wish). Ьbest (or good) wishes hopes felt or expressed for
another's happiness etc. wish-fulfilment a tendency for
subconscious desire to be satisfied in fantasy. wishing-well a
well into which coins are dropped and a wish is made. the wish
is father to the thought we believe a thing because we wish it
true. ЬЬwisher n. (in sense 4 of v.); (also in comb.). [OE
wyscan, OHG wunsken f. Gmc, ult. rel. to WEEN, WONT]
wishbone n. 1 a forked bone between the neck and breast of a cooked
bird: when broken between two people the longer portion entitles
the holder to make a wish. 2 an object of similar shape.
wishful adj. 1 (often foll. by to + infin.) desiring, wishing. 2
having or expressing a wish. Ьwishful thinking belief founded
on wishes rather than facts. ЬЬwishfully adv. wishfulness n.
wish-wash n. 1 a weak or watery drink. 2 insipid talk or writing.
[redupl. of WASH]
adj. 1 feeble, insipid, or indecisive in quality or character.
2 (of tea, soup, etc.) weak, watery, sloppy. [redupl. of WASHY]
wisp n. 1 a small bundle or twist of straw etc. 2 a small separate
quantity of smoke, hair, etc. 3 a small thin person etc. 4 a
flock (of snipe). ЬЬwispy adj. (wispier, wispiest). wispily
adv. wispiness n. [ME: orig. uncert.: cf. WFris. wisp, and
wist past and past part. of WIT(2).
wisteria n. (also wistaria) any climbing plant of the genus Wisteria,
with hanging racemes of blue, purple, or white flowers. [C.
Wistar (or Wister), Amer. anatomist d. 1818]
wistful adj. (of a person, looks, etc.) yearningly or mournfully
expectant or wishful. ЬЬwistfully adv. wistfulness n. [app.
assim. of obs. wistly (adv.) intently (cf. WHISHT) to wishful,
with corresp. change of sense]
wit(1) n. 1 (in sing. or pl.) intelligence; quick understanding (has
quick wits; a nimble wit). 2 a the unexpected, quick, and
humorous combining or contrasting of ideas or expressions
(conversation sparkling with wit). b the power of giving
intellectual pleasure by this. 3 a person possessing such a
power, esp. a cleverly humorous person. Ьat one's wit's (or
wits') end utterly at a loss or in despair. have (or keep)
one's wits about one be alert or vigilant or of lively
intelligence. live by one's wits live by ingenious or crafty
expedients, without a settled occupation. out of one's wits
mad, distracted. set one's wits to argue with. ЬЬwitted adj.
(in sense 1); (also in comb.). [OE wit(t), gewit(t) f. Gmc]
wit(2) v.tr. & intr. (1st & 3rd sing. present wot; past and past part.
wist) (often foll. by of) archaic know. Ьto wit that is to say;
namely. [OE witan f. Gmc]
witch n. & v. --n. 1 a sorceress, esp. a woman supposed to have
dealings with the devil or evil spirits. 2 an ugly old woman; a
hag. 3 a fascinating girl or woman. 4 a flat-fish,
Pleuronectes cynoglossus, resembling the lemon sole. --v.tr.
archaic 1 bewitch. 2 fascinate, charm, lure. Ьwitch-doctor a
tribal magician of primitive people. witches' sabbath see
SABBATH 3. witch-hunt 1 hist. a search for and persecution of
supposed witches. 2 a campaign directed against a particular
group of those holding unpopular or unorthodox views, esp.
communists. the witching hour midnight, when witches are
supposedly active (after Shakesp. Hamlet III. ii. 377 the
witching time of night). ЬЬwitching adj. witchlike adj. [OE
wicca (masc.), wicce (fem.), rel. to wiccian (v.) practise magic
witch- var. of WYCH-.
n. the use of magic; sorcery.
witchery n. 1 witchcraft. 2 power exercised by beauty or eloquence or
witchetty n. (pl. -ies) Austral. a large white larva of a beetle or
moth, eaten as food by Aborigines. [Aboriginal]
n. (also wych-hazel) 1 any American shrub of the genus
Hamamelis, with bark yielding an astringent lotion. 2 this
lotion, esp. from the leaves of H. virginiana.
n. hist. an Anglo-Saxon national council or parliament. [OE
f. witena genit. pl. of wita wise man (as WIT(2)) + gemot
meeting: cf. MOOT]
with prep. expressing: 1 an instrument or means used (cut with a
knife; can walk with assistance). 2 association or company
(lives with his mother; works with Shell; lamb with mint sauce).
3 cause or origin (shiver with fear; in bed with measles). 4
possession, attribution (the man with dark hair; a vase with
handles). 5 circumstances; accompanying conditions (sleep with
the window open; a holiday with all expenses paid). 6 manner
adopted or displayed (behaved with dignity; spoke with
vehemence; handle with care; won with ease). 7 agreement or
harmony (sympathize with; I believe with you that it can be
done). 8 disagreement, antagonism, competition (incompatible
with; stop arguing with me). 9 responsibility or care for (the
decision rests with you; leave the child with me). 10 material
(made with gold). 11 addition or supply; possession of as a
material, attribute, circumstance, etc. (fill it with water;
threaten with dismissal; decorate with holly). 12 reference or
regard (be patient with them; how are things with you?; what do
you want with me?; there's nothing wrong with expressing one's
opinion). 13 relation or causative association (changes with
the weather; keeps pace with the cost of living). 14 an
accepted circumstance or consideration (with all your faults, we
like you). Ьaway (or in or out etc.) with (as int.) take, send,
or put (a person or thing) away, in, out, etc. be with a person
1 agree with and support a person. 2 colloq. follow a person's
meaning (are you with me?). one with part of the same whole as.
with child (or young) literary pregnant. with it colloq. 1 up
to date; conversant with modern ideas etc. 2 alert and
comprehending. with-it adj. colloq. (of clothes etc.)
fashionable. with that thereupon. [OE, prob. shortened f. a
Gmc prep. corresp. to OE wither, OHG widar against]
withal adv. & prep. archaic --adv. moreover; as well; at the same
time. --prep. (placed after its expressed or omitted object)
with (what shall he fill his belly withal?). [ME f. WITH +
withdraw v. (past withdrew; past part. withdrawn) 1 tr. pull or take
aside or back (withdrew my hand). 2 tr. discontinue, cancel,
retract (withdrew my support; the promise was later withdrawn).
3 tr. remove; take away (withdrew the child from school;
withdrew their troops). 4 tr. take (money) out of an account.
5 intr. retire or go away; move away or back. 6 intr. (as
withdrawn adj.) abnormally shy and unsociable; mentally
detached. Ьwithdrawing-room archaic = DRAWING-ROOM 1.
ЬЬwithdrawer n. [ME f. with- away (as WITH) + DRAW]
n. 1 the act or an instance of withdrawing or being withdrawn.
2 a process of ceasing to take addictive drugs, often with an
unpleasant physical reaction (withdrawal symptoms). 3 = coitus
withe (also withy) (pl. withes or -ies) n. a tough flexible shoot
esp. of willow or osier used for tying a bundle of wood etc.
[OE withthe, withig f. Gmc, rel. to WIRE]
wither v. 1 tr. & intr. (often foll. by up) make or become dry and
shrivelled (withered flowers). 2 tr. & intr. (often foll. by
away) deprive of or lose vigour, vitality, freshness, or
importance. 3 intr. decay, decline. 4 tr. a blight with scorn
etc. b (as withering adj.) scornful (a withering look).
ЬЬwitheringly adv. [ME, app. var. of WEATHER differentiated for
withers n.pl. the ridge between a horse's shoulder-blades. [shortening
of (16th-c.) widersome (or -sone) f. wider-, wither- against
(cf. WITH), as the part that resists the strain of the collar:
second element obscure]
adv. (also widdershins) esp. Sc. 1 in a direction contrary to
the sun's course (considered as unlucky). 2 anticlockwise.
[MLG weddersins f. MHG widdersinnes f. wider against + sin
withhold v.tr. (past and past part. -held) 1 (often foll. by from) hold
back; restrain. 2 refuse to give, grant, or allow (withhold
one's consent; withhold the truth). ЬЬwithholder n. [ME f.
with- away (as WITH) + HOLD(1)]
within adv. & prep. --adv. archaic or literary 1 inside; to, at, or
on the inside; internally. 2 indoors (is anyone within?). 3 in
spirit (make me pure within). 4 inside the city walls
(Bishopsgate within). --prep. 1 inside; enclosed or contained
by. 2 a not beyond or exceeding (within one's means). b not
transgressing (within the law; within reason). 3 not further
off than (within three miles of a station; within shouting
distance; within ten days). Ьwithin doors in or into a house.
within one's grasp see GRASP. within reach (or sight) of near
enough to be reached or seen. [OE withinnan on the inside (as
WITH, innan (adv. & prep.) within, formed as IN)]
without prep. & adv. --prep. 1 not having, feeling, or showing (came
without any money; without hesitation; without any emotion). 2
with freedom from (without fear; without embarrassment). 3 in
the absence of (cannot live without you; the train left without
us). 4 with neglect or avoidance of (do not leave without
telling me). °Use as a conj., as in do not leave without you
tell me, is non-standard. 5 archaic outside (without the city
wall). --adv. archaic or literary 1 outside (seen from
without). 2 out of doors (remained shivering without). 3 in
outward appearance (rough without but kind within). 4 outside
the city walls (Bishopsgate without). Ьwithout end infinite,
eternal. [OE withutan (as WITH, utan from outside, formed as
withstand v. (past and past part. -stood) 1 tr. oppose, resist, hold out
against (a person, force, etc.). 2 intr. make opposition; offer
resistance. ЬЬwithstander n. [OE withstandan f. with- against
(as WITH) + STAND]
withy n. (pl. -ies) 1 a willow of any species. 2 var. of WITHE.
witling n. archaic usu. derog. a person who fancies himself or
herself as a wit.
witness n. & v. --n. 1 a person present at some event and able to give
information about it (cf. EYEWITNESS). 2 a a person giving
sworn testimony. b a person attesting another's signature to a
document. 3 (foll. by to, of) a person or thing whose
existence, condition, etc., attests or proves something (is a
living witness to their generosity). 4 testimony, evidence,
confirmation. --v. 1 tr. be a witness of (an event etc.) (did
you witness the accident?). 2 tr. be witness to the
authenticity of (a document or signature). 3 tr. serve as
evidence or an indication of. 4 intr. (foll. by against, for,
to) give or serve as evidence. Ьbear witness to (or of) 1
attest the truth of. 2 state one's belief in. call to witness
appeal to for confirmation etc. witness-box (US -stand) an
enclosure in a lawcourt from which witnesses give evidence. [OE
witnes (as WIT(1), -NESS)]
witter v.intr. (often foll. by on) colloq. speak tediously on trivial
matters. [20th c.: prob. imit.]
witticism n. a witty remark. [coined by Dryden (1677) f. WITTY, after
woad n. hist. 1 a cruciferous plant, Isatis tinctoria, yielding a
blue dye now superseded by indigo. 2 the dye obtained from
this. [OE wad f. Gmc]
wobbegong n. an Australian brown shark, Orectolobus maculatus, with buff
patterned markings. [Aboriginal]
wobble v. & n. --v. 1 a intr. sway or vibrate unsteadily from side to
side. b tr. cause to do this. 2 intr. stand or go unsteadily;
stagger. 3 intr. waver, vacillate; act inconsistently. 4 intr.
(of the voice or sound) quaver, pulsate. --n. 1 a wobbling
movement. 2 an instance of vacillation or pulsation.
Ьwobble-board Austral. a piece of fibreboard used as a musical
instrument with a low booming sound. ЬЬwobbler n. [earlier
wabble, corresp. to LG wabbeln, ON vafla waver f. Gmc: cf.
WAVE, WAVER, -LE(4)]
wobbly adj. (wobblier, wobbliest) 1 wobbling or tending to wobble. 2
wavy, undulating (a wobbly line). 3 unsteady; weak after
illness (feeling wobbly). 4 wavering, vacillating, insecure
(the economy was wobbly). Ьthrow a wobbly sl. have a fit of
nerves. ЬЬwobbliness n.
wodge n. Brit. colloq. a chunk or lump. [alt. of WEDGE(1)]
woe n. archaic or literary 1 affliction; bitter grief; distress. 2
(in pl.) calamities, troubles. 3 joc. problems (told me a tale
of woe). Ьwoe betide there will be unfortunate consequences for
(woe betide you if you are late). woe is me an exclamation of
distress. [OE wa, w‘ f. Gmc, a natural exclam. of lament]
woebegone adj. dismal-looking. [WOE + begone = surrounded f. OE began
(as BE-, GO(1))]
woeful adj. 1 sorrowful; afflicted with distress (a woeful
expression). 2 causing sorrow or affliction. 3 very bad;
wretched (woeful ignorance). ЬЬwoefully adv. woefulness n.
wog(1) n. sl. offens. a foreigner, esp. a non-White one. [20th c.:
wog(2) n. Austral. sl. an illness or infection. [20th c.: orig.
woggle n. a leather etc. ring through which the ends of a Scout's
neckerchief are passed at the neck. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
wok n. a bowl-shaped frying-pan used in esp. Chinese cookery.
woke past of WAKE(1).
woken past part. of WAKE(1).
wold n. a piece of high open uncultivated land or moor. [OE wald f.
Gmc, perh. rel. to WILD: cf. WEALD]
wolf n. & v. --n. (pl. wolves) 1 a wild flesh-eating tawny-grey
mammal related to the dog, esp. Canis lupus, preying on sheep
etc. and hunting in packs. 2 sl. a man given to seducing women.
3 a rapacious or greedy person. 4 Mus. a a jarring sound from
some notes in a bowed instrument. b an out-of-tune effect when
playing certain chords on old organs (before the present 'equal
temperament' was in use). --v.tr. (often foll. by down) devour
(food) greedily. Ьcry wolf raise repeated false alarms (so that
a genuine one is disregarded). have (or hold) a wolf by the
ears be in a precarious position. keep the wolf from the door
avert hunger or starvation. lone wolf a person who prefers to
act alone. throw to the wolves sacrifice without compunction.
wolf-cub 1 a young wolf. 2 Brit. the former name for a Cub
Scout. wolf-fish any large voracious blenny of the genus
Anarrhichas. wolf in sheep's clothing a hostile person who
pretends friendship. wolf-pack an attacking group of submarines
or aircraft. wolf's-milk spurge. wolf-spider any
ground-dwelling spider of the family Lycosidae, hunting instead
of trapping its prey. wolf-whistle n. a sexually admiring
whistle by a man to a woman. --v.intr. make a wolf-whistle.
ЬЬwolfish adj. wolfishly adv. wolflike adj. & adv. [OE wulf
wolfhound n. a borzoi or other dog of a kind used orig. to hunt wolves.
wolfram n. 1 tungsten. 2 tungsten ore; a native tungstate of iron and
manganese. [G: perh. f. Wolf WOLF + Rahm cream, or MHG ram
n. = WOLFRAM 2.
wolfsbane n. an aconite, esp. Aconitum lycoctonum.
wolfskin n. 1 the skin of a wolf. 2 a mat, cloak, etc., made from this.
wolverine n. (also wolverene) = GLUTTON 3. [16th-c. wolvering, somehow
derived f. wolv-, stem of WOLF]
wolves pl. of WOLF.
woman n. (pl. women) 1 an adult human female. 2 the female sex; any
or an average woman (how does woman differ from man?). 3 a wife
or female sexual partner. 4 (prec. by the) emotions or
characteristics traditionally associated with women (brought out
the woman in him). 5 a man with characteristics traditionally
associated with women. 6 (attrib.) female (woman driver; women
friends). 7 (as second element in comb.) a woman of a specified
nationality, profession, skill, etc. (Englishwoman;
horsewoman). 8 colloq. a female domestic help. 9 archaic or
hist. a queen's etc. female attendant ranking below lady (woman
of the bedchamber). Ьwoman of the streets a prostitute.
Women's Institute an organization of women in rural areas to
meet regularly and participate in crafts, cultural activities,
etc. women's lib colloq. = women's liberation. women's libber
colloq. a supporter of women's liberation. women's liberation
the liberation of women from inequalities and subservient status
in relation to men, and from attitudes causing these. Women's
Liberation (or Movement) a movement campaigning for women's
liberation. women's rights rights that promote a position of
legal and social equality of women with men. ЬЬwomanless adj.
womanlike adj. [OE wifmon, -man (as WIFE, MAN), a formation
peculiar to English, the ancient word being WIFE]
womanhood n. 1 female maturity. 2 womanly instinct. 3 womankind.
womanish adj. usu. derog. 1 (of a man) effeminate, unmanly. 2
suitable to or characteristic of a woman. ЬЬwomanishly adv.
womanize v. (also -ise) 1 intr. chase after women; philander. 2 tr.
make womanish. ЬЬwomanizer n.
womankind n. (also womenkind) women in general.
womanly adj. (of a woman) having or showing qualities traditionally
associated with women; not masculine or girlish. ЬЬwomanliness
womb n. 1 the organ of conception and gestation in a woman and other
female mammals; the uterus. 2 a place of origination and
development. ЬЬwomblike adj. [OE wamb, womb]
wombat n. any burrowing plant-eating Australian marsupial of the
family Vombatidae, resembling a small bear, with short legs.
women pl. of WOMAN.
womenfolk n. 1 women in general. 2 the women in a family.
womenkind var. of WOMANKIND.
won past and past part. of WIN.
wonder n. & v. --n. 1 an emotion excited by what is unexpected,
unfamiliar, or inexplicable, esp. surprise mingled with
admiration or curiosity etc. 2 a strange or remarkable person
or thing, specimen, event, etc. 3 (attrib.) having marvellous
or amazing properties etc. (a wonder drug). 4 a surprising
thing (it is a wonder you were not hurt). --v. 1 intr. (often
foll. by at, or to + infin.) be filled with wonder or great
surprise. 2 tr. (foll. by that + clause) be surprised to find.
3 tr. desire or be curious to know (I wonder what the time is).
4 tr. expressing a tentative enquiry (I wonder whether you would
mind?). ЬI shouldn't wonder colloq. I think it likely. I
wonder I very much doubt it. no (or small) wonder (often foll.
by that + clause) one cannot be surprised; one might have
guessed; it is natural. the seven wonders of the world seven
buildings and monuments regarded in antiquity as specially
remarkable. wonder-struck (or -stricken) reduced to silence by
wonder. wonders will never cease an exclamation of extreme
(usu. agreeable) surprise. wonder-worker a person who performs
wonders. work (or do) wonders 1 do miracles. 2 succeed
remarkably. ЬЬwonderer n. [OE wundor, wundrian, of unkn.
wonderful adj. 1 very remarkable or admirable. 2 arousing wonder.
ЬЬwonderfully adv. wonderfulness n. [OE wunderfull (as WONDER,
n. 1 a fairyland. 2 a land of surprises or marvels.
n. surprise, awe.
wondrous adj. & adv. poet. --adj. wonderful. --adv. wonderfully
(wondrous kind). ЬЬwondrously adv. wondrousness n. [alt. of
obs. wonders (adj. & adv.), = genit. of WONDER (cf. -S(3))
wonky adj. (wonkier, wonkiest) Brit. sl. 1 crooked. 2 loose,
unsteady. 3 unreliable. ЬЬwonkily adv. wonkiness n.
wont adj., n., & v. --predic.adj. archaic or literary (foll. by to
+ infin.) accustomed (as we were wont to say). --n. formal or
joc. what is customary, one's habit (as is my wont). --v.tr. &
intr. (3rd sing. present wonts or wont; past wont or wonted)
archaic make or become accustomed. [OE gewunod past part. of
gewunian f. wunian dwell]
won't contr. will not.
wonted attrib.adj. habitual, accustomed, usual.
woo v.tr. (woos, wooed) 1 court; seek the hand or love of (a
woman). 2 try to win (fame, fortune, etc.). 3 seek the favour
or support of. 4 coax or importune. ЬЬwooable adj. wooer n.
[OE wogian (intr.), awogian (tr.), of unkn. orig.]
wood n. 1 a a hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of
the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub. b this cut for timber
or for fuel, or for use in crafts, manufacture, etc. 2 (in
sing. or pl.) growing trees densely occupying a tract of land.
3 (prec. by the) wooden storage, esp. a cask, for wine etc.
(poured straight from the wood). 4 a wooden-headed golf club.
5 = BOWL(2) n. 1. Ьnot see the wood for the trees fail to
grasp the main issue from over-attention to details. out of the
wood (or woods) out of danger or difficulty. wood alcohol
methanol. wood anemone a wild spring-flowering anemone, Anemone
nemorosa. wood-engraver a maker of wood-engravings.
wood-engraving 1 a relief cut on a block of wood sawn across the
grain. 2 a print made from this. 3 the technique of making
such reliefs and prints. wood-fibre fibre obtained from wood
esp. as material for paper. wood hyacinth = BLUEBELL 1. wood
nymph a dryad or hamadryad. wood pulp wood-fibre reduced
chemically or mechanically to pulp as raw material for paper.
wood-screw a metal male screw with a slotted head and sharp
point. wood sorrel a small plant, Oxalis acetosella, with
trifoliate leaves and white flowers streaked with purple. wood
spirit crude methanol obtained from wood. wood warbler 1 a
European woodland bird, Phylloscopus sibilatrix, with a trilling
song. 2 any American warbler of the family Parulidae. wood
wool fine pine etc. shavings used as a surgical dressing or for
packing. ЬЬwoodless adj. [OE wudu, wi(o)du f. Gmc]
woodbind n. = WOODBINE.
woodbine n. 1 wild honeysuckle. 2 US Virginia creeper.
woodblock n. a block from which woodcuts are made.
woodchuck n. a reddish-brown and grey N. American marmot, Marmota monax.
[Amer. Ind. name: cf. Cree wuchak, otchock]
woodcock n. (pl. same) any game-bird of the genus Scolopax, inhabiting
woodcraft n. esp. US 1 skill in woodwork. 2 knowledge of woodland esp.
in camping, scouting, etc.
woodcut n. 1 a relief cut on a block of wood sawn along the grain. 2 a
print made from this, esp. as an illustration in a book. 3 the
technique of making such reliefs and prints.
n. 1 a person who cuts wood. 2 a maker of woodcuts.
wooded adj. having woods or many trees.
wooden adj. 1 made of wood. 2 like wood. 3 a stiff, clumsy, or
stilted; without animation or flexibility (wooden movements; a
wooden performance). b expressionless (a wooden stare).
Ьwooden-head colloq. a stupid person. wooden-headed colloq.
stupid. wooden-headedness colloq. stupidity. wooden horse =
Trojan Horse. wooden spoon a booby prize (orig. a spoon given
to the candidate coming last in the Cambridge mathematical
tripos). ЬЬwoodenly adv. woodenness n.
n. = CAPERCAILLIE.
woodland n. wooded country, woods (often attrib.: woodland scenery).
woodlark n. a lark, Lullula arborea.
woodlouse n. (pl. -lice) any small terrestrial isopod crustacean of the
genus Oniscus etc. feeding on rotten wood etc. and often able to
roll into a ball.
woodman n. (pl. -men) 1 a forester. 2 a woodcutter.
woodmouse n. (pl. -mice) a fieldmouse.
woodnote n. (often in pl.) a natural or spontaneous note of a bird etc.
n. any bird of the family Picidae that climbs and taps
tree-trunks in search of insects.
woodpie n. a greater spotted woodpecker.
n. a dove, Columba palumbus, having white patches like a ring
round its neck. Also called ring-dove (see RING(1)).
woodpile n. a pile of wood, esp. for fuel.
woodruff n. a white-flowered plant of the genus Galium, esp. G.
odoratum grown for the fragrance of its whorled leaves when
dried or crushed.
woodrush n. any grassy herbaceous plant of the genus Luzula.
woodshed n. a shed where wood for fuel is stored. Ьsomething nasty in
the woodshed colloq. a shocking or distasteful thing kept
woodsman n. (pl. -men) 1 a person who lives in or is familiar with
woodland. 2 a person skilled in woodcraft.
woodsy adj. US like or characteristic of woods. [irreg. f. WOOD +
woodwasp n. any sawfly of the family Siricidae, esp. Urocerus gigas,
that hangs its nest in trees and inserts its eggs into the wood
of conifers where the larvae bore damaging tunnels.
woodwind n. (often attrib.) 1 (collect.) the wind instruments of the
orchestra that were (mostly) orig. made of wood, e.g. the flute
and clarinet. 2 (usu. in pl.) an individual instrument of this
kind or its player (the woodwinds are out of tune).
woodwork n. 1 the making of things in wood. 2 things made of wood, esp.
the wooden parts of a building. Ьcrawl (or come) out of the
woodwork colloq. (of something unwelcome) appear; become known.
ЬЬwoodworker n. woodworking n.
woodworm n. 1 the wood-boring larva of the furniture beetle. 2 the
damaged condition of wood affected by this.
woody adj. (woodier, woodiest) 1 (of a region) wooded; abounding in
woods. 2 like or of wood (woody tissue). Ьwoody nightshade see
NIGHTSHADE. ЬЬwoodiness n.
woodyard n. a yard where wood is used or stored.
woof(1) n. & v. --n. the gruff bark of a dog. --v.intr. give a woof.
woof(2) n. = WEFT(1). [OE owef, alt. of owebb (after wefan WEAVE(1)),
formed as A-(2), WEB: infl. by warp]
woofer n. a loudspeaker designed to reproduce low frequencies (cf.
TWEETER). [WOOF(1) + -ER(1)]
wool n. 1 fine soft wavy hair from the fleece of sheep, goats, etc.
2 a yarn produced from this hair. b cloth or clothing made from
it. 3 any of various wool-like substances (steel wool). 4 soft
short under-fur or down. 5 colloq. a person's hair, esp. when
short and curly. Ьpull the wool over a person's eyes deceive a
person. wool-fat lanolin. wool-fell Brit. the skin of a sheep
etc. with the fleece still on. wool-gathering
absent-mindedness; dreamy inattention. wool-grower a breeder of
sheep for wool. wool-oil suint. wool-pack 1 a fleecy cumulus
cloud. 2 hist. a bale of wool. wool-skin = wool-fell.
wool-sorters' disease anthrax. wool-stapler a person who grades
wool. ЬЬwool-like adj. [OE wull f. Gmc]
woollen adj. & n. (US woolen) --adj. made wholly or partly of wool,
esp. from short fibres. --n. 1 a fabric produced from wool. 2
(in pl.) woollen garments. [OE wullen (as WOOL, -EN(2))]
woolly adj. & n. --adj. (woollier, woolliest) 1 bearing or naturally
covered with wool or wool-like hair. 2 resembling or suggesting
wool (woolly clouds). 3 (of a sound) indistinct. 4 (of
thought) vague or confused. 5 Bot. downy. 6 lacking in
definition, luminosity, or incisiveness. --n. (pl. -ies)
colloq. a woollen garment, esp. a knitted pullover.
Ьwoolly-bear a large hairy caterpillar, esp. of the tiger moth.
Woolsack n. 1 (in the UK) the Lord Chancellor's wool-stuffed seat in the
House of Lords. 2 the position of Lord Chancellor.
woolshed n. Austral. & NZ a large shed for shearing and baling wool.
woomera n. Austral. 1 an Aboriginal stick for throwing a dart or spear
more forcibly. 2 a club used as a missile. [Aboriginal]
woop woop n. Austral. & NZ sl. 1 a jocular name for a remote outback
town or district. 2 (Woop Woop) an imaginary remote place.
woosh var. of WHOOSH.
woozy adj. (woozier, wooziest) colloq. 1 dizzy or unsteady. 2 dazed
or slightly drunk. 3 vague. ЬЬwoozily adv. wooziness n.
[19th c.: orig. unkn.]
wop n. sl. offens. an Italian or other S. European. [20th c.:
orig. uncert.: perh. f. It. guappo bold, showy, f. Sp. guapo
n. a pungent sauce first made in Worcester. [Worcester in S.
Worcs. abbr. Worcestershire.
word n. & v. --n. 1 a sound or combination of sounds forming a
meaningful element of speech, usu. shown with a space on either
side of it when written or printed, used as part (or occas. as
the whole) of a sentence. 2 speech, esp. as distinct from
action (bold in word only). 3 one's promise or assurance (gave
us their word). 4 (in sing. or pl.) a thing said, a remark or
conversation. 5 (in pl.) the text of a song or an actor's part.
6 (in pl.) angry talk (they had words). 7 news, intelligence; a
message. 8 a command, password, or motto (gave the word to
begin). 9 a basic unit of the expression of data in a computer.
--v.tr. put into words; select words to express (how shall we
word that?). Ьat a word as soon as requested. be as good as
(or better than) one's word fulfil (or exceed) what one has
promised. break one's word fail to do what one has promised.
have no words for be unable to express. have a word (often
foll. by with) speak briefly (to). in other words expressing
the same thing differently. in so many words explicitly or
bluntly. in a (or one) word briefly. keep one's word do what
one has promised. my (or upon my) word an exclamation of
surprise or consternation. not the word for it not an adequate
or appropriate description. of few words taciturn. of one's
word reliable in keeping promises (a woman of her word). on (or
upon) my word a form of asseveration. put into words express in
speech or writing. take a person at his or her word interpret a
person's words literally or exactly. take a person's word for
it believe a person's statement without investigation etc. too
... for words too ... to be adequately described (was too funny
for words). waste words talk in vain. the Word (or Word of
God) the Bible. word-blind incapable of identifying written or
printed words owing to a brain defect. word-blindness this
condition. word-deaf incapable of identifying spoken words
owing to a brain defect. word-deafness this condition. word
for word in exactly the same or (of translation) corresponding
words. word-game a game involving the making or selection etc.
of words. word of honour an assurance given upon one's honour.
word of mouth speech (only). word order the sequence of words
in a sentence, esp. affecting meaning etc. word-painting a
vivid description in writing. word-perfect knowing one's part
etc. by heart. word-picture a piece of word-painting. word
processor a purpose-built computer system for electronically
storing text entered from a keyboard, incorporating corrections,
and providing a printout. words fail me an expression of
disbelief, dismay, etc. word-square a set of words of equal
length written one under another to read the same down as across
(e.g. too old ode). a word to the wise = VERB. SAP. ЬЬwordage
n. wordless adj. wordlessly adv. wordlessness n. [OE f. Gmc]
wordbook n. a book with lists of words; a vocabulary or dictionary.
wording n. 1 a form of words used. 2 the way in which something is
wordplay n. use of words to witty effect, esp. by punning.
wordsmith n. a skilled user or maker of words.
wordy adj. (wordier, wordiest) 1 using or expressed in many or too
many words; verbose. 2 consisting of words. ЬЬwordily adv.
wordiness n. [OE wordig (as WORD, -Y(1))]
wore(1) past of WEAR(1).
wore(2) past and past part. of WEAR(2).
work n. & v. --n. 1 the application of mental or physical effort to
a purpose; the use of energy. 2 a a task to be undertaken. b
the materials for this. c (prec. by the; foll. by of) a task
occupying (no more than) a specified time (the work of a
moment). 3 a thing done or made by work; the result of an
action; an achievement; a thing made. 4 a person's employment
or occupation etc., esp. as a means of earning income (looked
for work; is out of work). 5 a a literary or musical
composition. b (in pl.) all such by an author or composer etc.
6 actions or experiences of a specified kind (good work!; this
is thirsty work). 7 a (in comb.) things or parts made of a
specified material or with specified tools etc. (ironwork;
needlework). b archaic needlework. 8 (in pl.) the operative
part of a clock or machine. 9 Physics the exertion of force
overcoming resistance or producing molecular change (convert
heat into work). 10 (in pl.) colloq. all that is available;
everything needed. 11 (in pl.) operations of building or repair
(road works). 12 (in pl.; often treated as sing.) a place where
manufacture is carried on. 13 (usu. in pl.) Theol. a
meritorious act. 14 (usu. in pl. or in comb.) a defensive
structure (earthworks). 15 (in comb.) a ornamentation of a
specified kind (poker-work). b articles having this. --v.
(past and past part. worked or (esp. as adj.) wrought) 1 intr.
(often foll. by at, on) do work; be engaged in bodily or mental
activity. 2 intr. a be employed in certain work (works in
industry; works as a secretary). b (foll. by with) be the
workmate of (a person). 3 intr. (often foll. by for) make
efforts; conduct a campaign (works for peace). 4 intr. (foll.
by in) be a craftsman (in a material). 5 intr. operate or
function, esp. effectively (how does this machine work?; your
idea will not work). 6 intr. (of a part of a machine) run,
revolve; go through regular motions. 7 tr. carry on, manage, or
control (cannot work the machine). 8 tr. a put or keep in
operation or at work; cause to toil (this mine is no longer
worked; works the staff very hard). b cultivate (land). 9 tr.
bring about; produce as a result (worked miracles). 10 tr.
knead, hammer; bring to a desired shape or consistency. 11 tr.
do, or make by, needlework etc. 12 tr. & intr. (cause to)
progress or penetrate, or make (one's way), gradually or with
difficulty in a specified way (worked our way through the crowd;
worked the peg into the hole). 13 intr. (foll. by loose etc.)
gradually become (loose etc.) by constant movement. 14 tr.
artificially excite (worked themselves into a rage). 15 tr.
solve (a sum) by mathematics. 16 tr. a purchase with one's
labour instead of money (work one's passage). b obtain by
labour the money for (one's way through university etc.). 17
intr. (foll. by on, upon) have influence. 18 intr. be in motion
or agitated; cause agitation, ferment (his features worked
violently; the yeast began to work). 19 intr. Naut. sail
against the wind. Ьat work in action or engaged in work. give
a person the works 1 colloq. give or tell a person everything.
2 colloq. treat a person harshly. 3 sl. kill a person. have
one's work cut out be faced with a hard task. set to work begin
or cause to begin operations. work away (or on) continue to
work. work-basket (or -bag etc.) a basket or bag etc.
containing sewing materials. work camp a camp at which
community work is done esp. by young volunteers. work one's
fingers to the bone see BONE. work in find a place for. work
it colloq. bring it about; achieve a desired result. work of
art a fine picture, poem, or building etc. work off get rid of
by work or activity. work out 1 solve (a sum) or find out (an
amount) by calculation. 2 (foll. by at) be calculated (the
total works out at 230). 3 give a definite result (this sum
will not work out). 4 have a specified result (the plan worked
out well). 5 provide for the details of (has worked out a
scheme). 6 accomplish or attain with difficulty (work out one's
salvation). 7 exhaust with work (the mine is worked out). 8
engage in physical exercise or training. work over 1 examine
thoroughly. 2 colloq. treat with violence. works council esp.
Brit. a group of employees representing those employed in a
works etc. in discussions with their employers. work-shy
disinclined to work. works of supererogation see
SUPEREROGATION. work study a system of assessing methods of
working so as to achieve the maximum output and efficiency.
work table a table for working at, esp. with a sewing-machine.
work to rule (esp. as a form of industrial action) follow
official working rules exactly in order to reduce output and
efficiency. work-to-rule the act or an instance of working to
rule. work up 1 bring gradually to an efficient state. 2
(foll. by to) advance gradually to a climax. 3 elaborate or
excite by degrees. 4 mingle (ingredients) into a whole. 5
learn (a subject) by study. work one's will (foll. by on, upon)
archaic accomplish one's purpose on (a person or thing). work
wonders see WONDER. ЬЬworkless adj. [OE weorc etc. f. Gmc]
workable adj. 1 that can be worked or will work. 2 that is worth
working; practicable, feasible (a workable quarry; a workable
scheme). ЬЬworkability () n. workableness n. workably adv.
workaday adj. 1 ordinary, everyday, practical. 2 fit for, used, or seen
n. colloq. a person addicted to working.
workbench n. a bench for doing mechanical or practical work, esp.
workbox n. a box for holding tools, materials for sewing, etc.
workday n. esp. US a day on which work is usually done.
worker n. 1 a person who works, esp. a manual or industrial employee.
2 a neuter or undeveloped female of various social insects, esp.
a bee or ant, that does the basic work of its colony. Ьworker
priest a French Roman Catholic or an Anglican priest who engages
part-time in secular work.
workforce n. 1 the workers engaged or available in an industry etc. 2
the number of such workers.
workhorse n. a horse, person, or machine that performs hard work.
workhouse n. 1 Brit. hist. a public institution in which the destitute
of a parish received board and lodging in return for work done.
2 US a house of correction for petty offenders.
working adj. & n. --adj. 1 engaged in work, esp. in manual or
industrial labour. 2 functioning or able to function. --n. 1
the activity of work. 2 the act or manner of functioning of a
thing. 3 a a mine or quarry. b the part of this in which work
is being or has been done (a disused working). Ьworking capital
the capital actually used in a business. working class the
class of people who are employed for wages, esp. in manual or
industrial work. working-class adj. of the working class.
working day esp. Brit. 1 a workday. 2 the part of the day
devoted to work. working drawing a drawing to scale, serving as
a guide for construction or manufacture. working hours hours
normally devoted to work. working hypothesis a hypothesis used
as a basis for action. working knowledge knowledge adequate to
work with. working lunch etc. a meal at which business is
conducted. working order the condition in which a machine works
(satisfactorily or as specified). working-out 1 the calculation
of results. 2 the elaboration of details. working party a
group of people appointed to study a particular problem or
advise on some question.
workload n. the amount of work to be done by an individual etc.
workman n. (pl. -men) 1 a man employed to do manual labour. 2 a
person considered with regard to skill in a job (a good
adj. characteristic of a good workman; showing practised skill.
n. 1 the degree of skill in doing a task or of finish in the
product made. 2 a thing made or created by a specified person
workmate n. a person engaged in the same work as another.
workout n. a session of physical exercise or training.
n.pl. people in paid employment.
workpiece n. a thing worked on with a tool or machine.
workplace n. a place at which a person works; an office, factory, etc.
workroom n. a room for working in, esp. one equipped for a certain kind
worksheet n. 1 a paper for recording work done or in progress. 2 a paper
listing questions or activities for students etc. to work
workshop n. 1 a room or building in which goods are manufactured. 2 a a
meeting for concerted discussion or activity (a dance workshop).
b the members of such a meeting.
n. 1 the location of a stage in a manufacturing process. 2 a
computer terminal or the desk etc. where this is located.
worktop n. a flat surface for working on, esp. in a kitchen.
workwoman n. (pl. -women) a female worker or operative.
world n. 1 a the earth, or a planetary body like it. b its countries
and their inhabitants. c all people; the earth as known or in
some particular respect. 2 a the universe or all that exists;
everything. b everything that exists outside oneself (dead to
the world). 3 a the time, state, or scene of human existence.
b (prec. by the, this) mortal life. 4 secular interests and
affairs. 5 human affairs; their course and conditions; active
life (how goes the world with you?). 6 average, respectable, or
fashionable people or their customs or opinions. 7 all that
concerns or all who belong to a specified class, time, domain,
or sphere of activity (the medieval world; the world of sport).
8 (foll. by of) a vast amount (that makes a world of
difference). 9 (attrib.) affecting many nations, of all nations
(world politics; a world champion). Ьall the world and his wife
1 any large mixed gathering of people. 2 all with pretensions
to fashion. bring into the world give birth to or attend at the
birth of. carry the world before one have rapid and complete
success. come into the world be born. for all the world (foll.
by like, as if) precisely (looked for all the world as if they
were real). get the best of both worlds benefit from two
incompatible sets of ideas, circumstances, etc. in the world of
all; at all (used as an intensifier in questions) (what in the
world is it?). man (or woman) of the world a person experienced
and practical in human affairs. the next (or other) world a
supposed life after death. out of this world colloq. extremely
good etc. (the food was out of this world). see the world
travel widely; gain wide experience. think the world of have a
very high regard for. World Bank colloq. the International
Bank for Reconstruction and Development, an organization
administering economic aid between member nations. world-beater
a person or thing surpassing all others. world-class of a
quality or standard regarded as high throughout the world.
World Cup a competition between football or other sporting teams
from various countries. world-famous known throughout the
world. the world, the flesh, and the devil the various kinds of
temptation. world language 1 an artificial language for
international use. 2 a language spoken in many countries.
world-line Physics a curve in space-time joining the positions
of a particle throughout its existence. the (or all the) world
over throughout the world. world power a nation having power
and influence in world affairs. the world's end the farthest
attainable point of travel. World Series the US championship
for baseball teams. world-shaking of supreme importance. the
world to come supposed life after death. world-view =
WELTANSCHAUUNG. world war a war involving many important
nations (First World War of 1914-18; Second World War of
1939-45). world-weariness being world-weary. world-weary weary
of the world and life on it. world without end for ever. [OE
w(e)orold, world f. a Gmc root meaning 'age': rel. to OLD]
worldling n. a worldly person.
worldly adj. (worldlier, worldliest) 1 temporal or earthly (worldly
goods). 2 engrossed in temporal affairs, esp. the pursuit of
wealth and pleasure. Ьworldly-minded intent on worldly things.
worldly wisdom prudence as regards one's own interests.
worldly-wise having worldly wisdom. ЬЬworldliness n. [OE
woruldlic (as WORLD, -LY(1))]
worldwide adj. & adv. --adj. affecting, occurring in, or known in all
parts of the world. --adv. throughout the world.
worm n. & v. --n. 1 any of various types of creeping or burrowing
invertebrate animals with long slender bodies and no limbs, esp.
segmented in rings or parasitic in the intestines or tissues. 2
the long slender larva of an insect, esp. in fruit or wood. 3
(in pl.) intestinal or other internal parasites. 4 a blindworm
or slow-worm. 5 a maggot supposed to eat dead bodies in the
grave. 6 an insignificant or contemptible person. 7 a the
spiral part of a screw. b a short screw working in a worm-gear.
8 the spiral pipe of a still in which the vapour is cooled and
condensed. 9 the ligament under a dog's tongue. --v. 1 intr.
& tr. (often refl.) move with a crawling motion (wormed through
the bushes; wormed our way through the bushes). 2 intr. & refl.
(foll. by into) insinuate oneself into a person's favour,
confidence, etc. 3 tr. (foll. by out) obtain (a secret etc.) by
cunning persistence (managed to worm the truth out of them). 4
tr. cut the worm of (a dog's tongue). 5 tr. rid (a plant or dog
etc.) of worms. 6 tr. Naut. make (a rope etc.) smooth by
winding thread between the strands. Ьfood for worms a dead
person. worm-cast a convoluted mass of earth left on the
surface by a burrowing earthworm. worm-fishing fishing with
worms for bait. worm-gear an arrangement of a toothed wheel
worked by a revolving spiral. worm-hole a hole left by the
passage of a worm. worm-seed 1 seed used to expel intestinal
worms. 2 a plant e.g. santonica bearing this seed. worm's-eye
view a view as seen from below or from a humble position.
worm-wheel the wheel of a worm-gear. a (or even a) worm will
turn the meekest will resist or retaliate if pushed too far.
ЬЬwormer n. wormlike adj. [OE wyrm f. Gmc]
wormeaten adj. 1 a eaten into by worms. b rotten, decayed. 2 old and
wormwood n. 1 any woody shrub of the genus Artemisia, with a bitter
aromatic taste, used in the preparation of vermouth and absinthe
and in medicine. 2 bitter mortification or a source of this.
[ME, alt. f. obs. wormod f. OE wormod, wermod, after worm,
wood: cf. VERMOUTH]
wormy adj. (wormier, wormiest) 1 full of worms. 2 wormeaten.
worn past part. of WEAR(1). --adj. 1 damaged by use or wear. 2
looking tired and exhausted. 3 (in full well-worn) (of a joke
etc.) stale; often heard.
worriment n. esp. US 1 the act of worrying or state of being worried. 2
a cause of worry.
worrisome adj. causing or apt to cause worry or distress. ЬЬworrisomely
worrit n. colloq. = WORRY. [orig. alt. in general use of WORRY]
worry v. & n. --v. (-ies, -ied) 1 intr. give way to anxiety or
unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. 2
tr. harass, importune; be a trouble or anxiety to. 3 tr. a (of
a dog etc.) shake or pull about with the teeth. b attack
repeatedly. 4 (as worried adj.) a uneasy, troubled in the mind.
b suggesting worry (a worried look). --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a
thing that causes anxiety or disturbs a person's tranquillity.
2 a disturbed state of mind; anxiety; a worried state. 3 a
dog's worrying of its quarry. Ьnot to worry colloq. there is
no need to worry. worry along (or through) manage to advance by
persistence in spite of obstacles. worry beads a string of
beads manipulated with the fingers to occupy or calm oneself.
worry-guts (or -wart) colloq. a person who habitually worries
unduly. worry oneself (usu. in neg.) take needless trouble.
worry out obtain (the solution to a problem etc.) by dogged
effort. ЬЬworriedly adv. worrier n. worryingly adv. [OE
wyrgan strangle f. WG]
worse adj., adv., & n. --adj. 1 more bad. 2 (predic.) in or into
worse health or a worse condition (is getting worse; is none the
worse for it). --adv. more badly or more ill. --n. 1 a worse
thing or things (you might do worse than accept). 2 (prec. by
the) a worse condition (a change for the worse). Ьnone the
worse (often foll. by for) not adversely affected (by). or
worse or as an even worse alternative. the worse for drink
fairly drunk. the worse for wear 1 damaged by use. 2 injured.
worse luck see LUCK. worse off in a worse (esp. financial)
position. [OE wyrsa, wiersa f. Gmc]
worsen v.tr. & intr. make or become worse.
worship n. & v. --n. 1 a homage or reverence paid to a deity, esp. in
a formal service. b the acts, rites, or ceremonies of worship.
2 adoration or devotion comparable to religious homage shown
towards a person or principle (the worship of wealth; regarded
them with worship in their eyes). 3 archaic worthiness, merit;
recognition given or due to these; honour and respect. --v.
(worshipped, worshipping; US worshiped, worshiping) 1 tr. adore
as divine; honour with religious rites. 2 tr. idolize or regard
with adoration (worships the ground she walks on). 3 intr.
attend public worship. 4 intr. be full of adoration. ЬYour (or
His or Her) Worship esp. Brit. a title of respect used to or
of a mayor, certain magistrates, etc. ЬЬworshipper n. (US
worshiper). [OE weorthscipe (as WORTH, -SHIP)]
adj. 1 (usu. Worshipful) Brit. a title given to justices of
the peace and to certain old companies or their officers etc. 2
archaic entitled to honour or respect. 3 archaic imbued with a
spirit of veneration. ЬЬworshipfully adv. worshipfulness n.
worst adj., adv., n., & v. --adj. most bad. --adv. most badly. --n.
the worst part, event, circumstance, or possibility (the worst
of the storm is over; prepare for the worst). --v.tr. get the
better of; defeat, outdo. Ьat its etc. worst in the worst
state. at worst (or the worst) in the worst possible case. do
your worst an expression of defiance. get (or have) the worst
of it be defeated. if the worst comes to the worst if the worst
happens. [OE wierresta, wyrresta (adj.), wyrst, wyrrest (adv.),
worsted n. 1 a fine smooth yarn spun from combed long staple wool. 2
fabric made from this. [Worste(a)d in S. England]
wort n. 1 archaic (except in names) a plant or herb (liverwort; St
John's wort). 2 the infusion of malt which after fermentation
becomes beer. [OE wyrt: rel. to ROOT(1)]
worth adj. & n. --predic.adj. (governing a noun like a preposition) 1
of a value equivalent to (is worth њ50; is worth very little).
2 such as to justify or repay; deserving; bringing compensation
for (worth doing; not worth the trouble). 3 possessing or
having property amounting to (is worth a million pounds). --n.
1 what a person or thing is worth; the (usu. specified) merit of
(of great worth; persons of worth). 2 the equivalent of money
in a commodity (ten pounds' worth of petrol). Ьfor all one is
worth colloq. with one's utmost efforts; without reserve. for
what it is worth without a guarantee of its truth or value.
worth it colloq. worth the time or effort spent. worth one's
salt see SALT. worth while (or one's while) see WHILE. [OE
worthless adj. without value or merit. ЬЬworthlessly adv. worthlessness
adj. that is worth the time or effort spent; of value or
importance. ЬЬworthwhileness n.
worthy adj. & n. --adj. (worthier, worthiest) 1 estimable; having
some moral worth; deserving respect (lived a worthy life). 2
(of a person) entitled to (esp. condescending) recognition (a
worthy old couple). 3 a (foll. by of or to + infin.) deserving
(worthy of a mention; worthy to be remembered). b (foll. by of)
adequate or suitable to the dignity etc. of (in words worthy of
the occasion). --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a worthy person. 2 a person
of some distinction. 3 joc. a person. ЬЬworthily adv.
worthiness n. [ME wurthi etc. f. WORTH]
-worthy comb. form forming adjectives meaning: 1 deserving of
(blameworthy; noteworthy). 2 suitable or fit for (newsworthy;
wot see WIT(2).
wotcher int. Brit. sl. a form of casual greeting. [corrupt. of what
would v.aux. (3rd sing. would) past of WILL(1), used esp.: 1 (in the
2nd and 3rd persons, and often in the 1st: see SHOULD). a in
reported speech (he said he would be home by evening). b to
express the conditional mood (they would have been killed if
they had gone). 2 to express habitual action (would wait for
her every evening). 3 to express a question or polite request
(would they like it?; would you come in, please?). 4 to express
probability (I guess she would be over fifty by now). 5 (foll.
by that + clause) literary to express a wish (would that you
were here). 6 to express consent (they would not help).
Ьwould-be often derog. desiring or aspiring to be (a would-be
politician). [OE wolde, past of wyllan: see WILL(1)]
wouldn't contr. would not. ЬI wouldn't know colloq. (as is to be
expected) I do not know.
wouldst archaic 2nd sing. past of WOULD.
n. Chem. a jar with more than one neck, used for passing a gas
through a liquid etc. [P. Woulfe, Engl. chemist d. 1803]
wound(1) n. & v. --n. 1 an injury done to living tissue by a cut or
blow etc., esp. beyond the cutting or piercing of the skin. 2
an injury to a person's reputation or a pain inflicted on a
person's feelings. 3 poet. the pangs of love. --v.tr. inflict
a wound on (wounded soldiers; wounded feelings). ЬЬwoundingly
adv. woundless adj. [OE wund (n.), wundian (v.)]
wound(2) past and past part. of WIND(2) (cf. WIND(1) v. 6).
woundwort n. any of various plants esp. of the genus Stachys, formerly
supposed to have healing properties.
wove(1) past of WEAVE(1).
wove(2) adj. (of paper) made on a wire-gauze mesh and so having a
uniform unlined surface. [var. of woven, past part. of
woven past part. of WEAVE(1).
wow(1) int., n., & v. --int. expressing astonishment or admiration.
--n. sl. a sensational success. --v.tr. sl. impress or excite
greatly. [orig. Sc.: imit.]
wow(2) n. a slow pitch-fluctuation in sound-reproduction, perceptible
in long notes. [imit.]
wowser n. Austral. sl. 1 a puritanical fanatic. 2 a spoilsport. 3
a teetotaller. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
wrack n. 1 seaweed cast up or growing on the shore. 2 destruction.
3 a wreck or wreckage. 4 = RACK(2). 5 = RACK(5). [ME f. MDu.
wrak or MLG wra(c)k, a parallel formation to OE wr‘c, rel. to
wrecan WREAK: cf. WRECK, RACK(5)]
WRAF abbr. (in the UK) Women's Royal Air Force.
var. of RAGGLE-TAGGLE.
wraith n. 1 a ghost or apparition. 2 the spectral appearance of a
living person supposed to portend that person's death.
ЬЬwraithlike adj. [16th-c. Sc.: orig. unkn.]
wrangle n. & v. --n. a noisy argument, altercation, or dispute. --v.
1 intr. engage in a wrangle. 2 tr. US herd (cattle). [ME,
prob. f. LG or Du.: cf. LG wrangelen, frequent. of wrangen to
struggle, rel. to WRING]
wrangler n. 1 a person who wrangles. 2 US a cowboy. 3 (at Cambridge
University) a person placed in the first class of the
wrap v. & n. --v.tr. (wrapped, wrapping) 1 (often foll. by up)
envelop in folded or soft encircling material (wrap it up in
paper; wrap up a parcel). 2 (foll. by round, about) arrange or
draw (a pliant covering) round (a person) (wrapped the scarf
closer around me). 3 (foll. by round) sl. crash (a vehicle)
into a stationary object. --n. 1 a shawl or scarf or other
such addition to clothing; a wrapper. 2 esp. US material used
for wrapping. Ьtake the wraps off disclose. under wraps in
secrecy. wrap-over adj. (attrib.) (of a garment) having no seam
at one side but wrapped around the body and fastened. --n. such
a garment. wrapped up in engrossed or absorbed in. wrap up 1
finish off, bring to completion (wrapped up the deal in two
days). 2 put on warm clothes (mind you wrap up well). 3 (in
imper.) sl. be quiet. [ME: orig. unkn.]
adj. & n. (also wrapround) --adj. 1 (esp. of clothing)
designed to wrap round. 2 curving or extending round at the
edges. --n. anything that wraps round.
wrappage n. a wrapping or wrappings.
wrapper n. 1 a cover for a sweet, chocolate, etc. 2 a cover enclosing
a newspaper or similar packet for posting. 3 a paper cover of a
book, usu. detachable. 4 a loose enveloping robe or gown. 5 a
tobacco-leaf of superior quality enclosing a cigar.
wrapping n. (esp. in pl.) material used to wrap; wraps, wrappers.
Ьwrapping paper strong or decorative paper for wrapping parcels.
wrapround var. of WRAPAROUND.
wrasse n. any bright-coloured marine fish of the family Labridae with
thick lips and strong teeth. [Corn. wrach, var. of gwrach, =
Welsh gwrach, lit. 'old woman']
wrath n. literary extreme anger. [OE wr‘ththu f. wrath WROTH]
wrathful adj. literary extremely angry. ЬЬwrathfully adv. wrathfulness
wrathy adj. US = WRATHFUL.
wreak v.tr. 1 (usu. foll. by upon) give play or satisfaction to; put
in operation (vengeance or one's anger etc.). 2 cause (damage
etc.) (the hurricane wreaked havoc on the crops). 3 archaic
avenge (a wrong or wronged person). ЬЬwreaker n. [OE wrecan
drive, avenge, etc., f. Gmc: cf. WRACK, WRECK, WRETCH]
wreath n. (pl. wreaths) 1 flowers or leaves fastened in a ring esp.
as an ornament for a person's head or a building or for laying
on a grave etc. as a mark of honour or respect. 2 a a similar
ring of soft twisted material such as silk. b Heraldry a
representation of this below a crest. 3 a carved representation
of a wreath. 4 (foll. by of) a curl or ring of smoke or cloud.
5 a light drifting mass of snow etc. [OE writha f. weak grade
of writhan WRITHE]
wreathe v. 1 tr. encircle as, with, or like a wreath. 2 tr. (foll. by
round) put (one's arms etc.) round (a person etc.). 3 intr. (of
smoke etc.) move in the shape of wreaths. 4 tr. form (flowers,
silk, etc.) into a wreath. 5 tr. make (a garland). [partly
back-form. f. archaic wrethen past part. of WRITHE; partly f.
wreck n. & v. --n. 1 the destruction or disablement esp. of a ship.
2 a ship that has suffered a wreck (the shores are strewn with
wrecks). 3 a greatly damaged or disabled building, thing, or
person (had become a physical and mental wreck). 4 (foll. by
of) a wretched remnant or disorganized set of remains. 5 Law
goods etc. cast up by the sea. --v. 1 tr. cause the wreck of
(a ship etc.). 2 tr. completely ruin (hopes, chances, etc.). 3
intr. suffer a wreck. 4 tr. (as wrecked adj.) involved in a
shipwreck (wrecked sailors). 5 intr. US deal with wrecked
vehicles etc. Ьwreck-master an officer appointed to take charge
of goods etc. cast up from a wrecked ship. [ME f. AF wrec etc.
(cf. VAREC) f. a Gmc root meaning 'to drive': cf. WREAK]
wreckage n. 1 wrecked material. 2 the remnants of a wreck. 3 the
action or process of wrecking.
wrecker n. 1 a person or thing that wrecks or destroys. 2 esp. hist.
a person on the shore who tries to bring about a shipwreck in
order to plunder or profit by the wreckage. 3 esp. US a person
employed in demolition, or in recovering a wrecked ship or its
contents. 4 US a person who breaks up damaged vehicles for
spares and scrap. 5 US a vehicle or train used in recovering a
Wren n. (in the UK) a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service.
[orig. in pl., f. abbr. WRNS]
wren n. any small usu. brown short-winged songbird of the family
Troglodytidae, esp. Troglodytes troglodytes of Europe, having
an erect tail. [OE wrenna, rel. to OHG wrendo, wrendilo, Icel.
wrench n. & v. --n. 1 a violent twist or oblique pull or act of
tearing off. 2 an adjustable tool like a spanner for gripping
and turning nuts etc. 3 an instance of painful uprooting or
parting (leaving home was a great wrench). 4 Physics a
combination of a couple with the force along its axis. --v.tr.
1 twist or pull violently round or sideways. 2 (often foll. by
off, away, etc.) pull off with a wrench. 3 distort (facts) to
suit a theory etc. [(earlier as verb:) OE wrencan twist]
wrest v. & n. --v.tr. 1 force or wrench away from a person's grasp.
2 (foll. by from) obtain by effort or with difficulty. 3
distort into accordance with one's interests or views (wrest the
law to suit themselves). --n. archaic a key for tuning a harp
or piano etc. Ьwrest-block (or -plank) the part of a piano or
harpsichord holding the wrest-pins. wrest-pin each of the pins
to which the strings of a piano or harpsichord are attached.
[OE wr‘stan f. Gmc, rel. to WRIST]
wrestle n. & v. --n. 1 a contest in which two opponents grapple and
try to throw each other to the ground esp. as an athletic sport
under a code of rules. 2 a hard struggle. --v. 1 intr. (often
foll. by with) take part in a wrestle. 2 tr. fight (a person)
in a wrestle (wrestled his opponent to the ground). 3 intr. a
(foll. by with, against) struggle, contend. b (foll. by with)
do one's utmost to deal with (a task, difficulty, etc.). 4 tr.
move with efforts as if wrestling. ЬЬwrestler n. wrestling n.
[OE (unrecorded) wr‘stlian: cf. MLG wrostelen, OE wraxlian]
wretch n. 1 an unfortunate or pitiable person. 2 (often as a playful
term of depreciation) a reprehensible or contemptible person.
[OE wrecca f. Gmc]
wretched adj. (wretcheder, wretchedest) 1 unhappy or miserable. 2 of
bad quality or no merit; contemptible. 3 unsatisfactory or
displeasing. Ьfeel wretched 1 be unwell. 2 be much
embarrassed. ЬЬwretchedly adv. wretchedness n. [ME, irreg. f.
WRETCH + -ED(1): cf. WICKED]
wrick Brit. var. of RICK(2).
wriggle v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (of a worm etc.) twist or turn its body
with short writhing movements. 2 intr. (of a person or animal)
make wriggling motions. 3 tr. & intr. (foll. by along etc.)
move or go in this way (wriggled into the corner; wriggled his
hand into the hole). 4 tr. make (one's way) by wriggling. 5
intr. practise evasion. --n. an act of wriggling. Ьwriggle out
of colloq. avoid on a contrived pretext. ЬЬwriggler n.
wriggly adj. [ME f. MLG wriggelen frequent. of wriggen]
wright n. a maker or builder (usu. in comb.: playwright; shipwright).
[OE wryhta, wyrhta f. WG: cf. WORK]
wring v. & n. --v.tr. (past and past part. wrung) 1 a squeeze
tightly. b (often foll. by out) squeeze and twist esp. to
remove liquid. 2 twist forcibly; break by twisting. 3 distress
or torture. 4 extract by squeezing. 5 (foll. by out, from)
obtain by pressure or importunity; extort. --n. an act of
wringing; a squeeze. Ьwring a person's hand clasp it forcibly
or press it with emotion. wring one's hands clasp them as a
gesture of great distress. wring the neck of kill (a chicken
etc.) by twisting its neck. [OE wringan, rel. to WRONG]
wringer n. a device for wringing water from washed clothes etc.
wringing adj. (in full wringing wet) so wet that water can be wrung out.
wrinkle n. & v. --n. 1 a slight crease or depression in the skin such
as is produced by age. 2 a similar mark in another flexible
surface. 3 colloq. a useful tip or clever expedient. --v. 1
tr. make wrinkles in. 2 intr. form wrinkles; become marked with
wrinkles. [orig. repr. OE gewrinclod sinuous]
wrinkly adj. & n. --adj. (wrinklier, wrinkliest) having many wrinkles.
--n. (also wrinklie) (pl. -ies) sl. offens. an old or
wrist n. 1 the part connecting the hand with the forearm. 2 the
corresponding part in an animal. 3 the part of a garment
covering the wrist. 4 a (in full wrist-work) the act or
practice of working the hand without moving the arm. b the
effect got in fencing, ball games, sleight of hand, etc., by
this. 5 (in full wrist-pin) Mech. a stud projecting from a
crank etc. as an attachment for a connecting-rod. Ьwrist-drop
the inability to extend the hand through paralysis of the
forearm muscles. wrist-watch a small watch worn on a strap
round the wrist. [OE f. Gmc, prob. f. a root rel. to WRITHE]
wristband n. a band forming or concealing the end of a shirt-sleeve; a
wristlet n. a band or ring worn on the wrist to strengthen or guard it
or as an ornament, bracelet, handcuff, etc.
wristy adj. (esp. of a shot in cricket, tennis, etc.) involving or
characterized by movement of the wrist.
writ(1) n. 1 a form of written command in the name of a sovereign,
court, State, etc., to act or abstain from acting in some way.
2 a Crown document summoning a peer to Parliament or ordering
the election of a member or members of Parliament. Ьserve a
writ on deliver a writ to (a person). one's writ runs one has
authority (as specified). [OE (as WRITE)]
writ(2) archaic past part. of WRITE. Ьwrit large in magnified or
write v. (past wrote; past part. written) 1 intr. mark paper or some
other surface by means of a pen, pencil, etc., with symbols,
letters, or words. 2 tr. form or mark (such symbols etc.). 3
tr. form or mark the symbols that represent or constitute (a
word or sentence, or a document etc.). 4 tr. fill or complete
(a sheet, cheque, etc.) with writing. 5 tr. put (data) into a
computer store. 6 tr. (esp. in passive) indicate (a quality or
condition) by one's or its appearance (guilt was written on his
face). 7 tr. compose (a text, article, novel, etc.) for written
or printed reproduction or publication; put into literary etc.
form and set down in writing. 8 intr. be engaged in composing a
text, article, etc. (writes for the local newspaper). 9 intr.
(foll. by to) write and send a letter (to a recipient). 10 tr.
US or colloq. write and send a letter to (a person) (wrote him
last week). 11 tr. convey (news, information, etc.) by letter
(wrote that they would arrive next Friday). 12 tr. state in
written or printed form (it is written that). 13 tr. cause to
be recorded. 14 tr. underwrite (an insurance policy). 15 tr.
(foll. by into, out of) include or exclude (a character or
episode) in a story by suitable changes of the text. 16 tr.
archaic describe in writing. Ьnothing to write home about
colloq. of little interest or value. write down 1 record or
take note of in writing. 2 write as if for those considered
inferior. 3 disparage in writing. 4 reduce the nominal value
of (stock, goods, etc.). write in 1 send a suggestion, query,
etc., in writing to an organization, esp. a broadcasting
station. 2 US add (an extra name) on a list of candidates when
voting. write-in n. US an instance of writing in (see write in
2). write off 1 write and send a letter. 2 cancel the record
of (a bad debt etc.); acknowledge the loss of or failure to
recover (an asset). 3 damage (a vehicle etc.) so badly that it
cannot be repaired. 4 compose with facility. write-off n. a
thing written off, esp. a vehicle too badly damaged to be
repaired. write out 1 write in full or in finished form. 2
exhaust (oneself) by writing (have written myself out). write
up 1 write a full account of. 2 praise in writing. 3 make
entries to bring (a diary etc.) up to date. write-up n.
colloq. a written or published account, a review. ЬЬwritable
adj. [OE writan scratch, score, write, f. Gmc: orig. used of
symbols inscribed with sharp tools on stone or wood]
writer n. 1 a person who writes or has written something. 2 a person
who writes books; an author. 3 a clerk, esp. in the Navy or in
government offices. 4 a scribe. Ьwriter's cramp a muscular
spasm due to excessive writing. Writer to the Signet a Scottish
solicitor conducting cases in the Court of Session. [OE writere
writhe v. & n. --v. 1 intr. twist or roll oneself about in or as if
in acute pain. 2 intr. suffer severe mental discomfort or
embarrassment (writhed with shame; writhed at the thought of
it). 3 tr. twist (one's body etc.) about. --n. an act of
writhing. [OE writhan, rel. to WREATHE]
writing n. 1 a group or sequence of letters or symbols. 2 =
HANDWRITING. 3 (usu. in pl.) a piece of literary work done; a
book, article, etc. 4 (Writings) the Hagiographa. Ьin writing
in written form. writing-desk a desk for writing at, esp. with
compartments for papers etc. the writing on the wall an
ominously significant event etc. (see Dan. 5:5, 25-8).
writing-pad a pad (see PAD(1) n. 2) of paper for writing on.
writing-paper paper for writing (esp. letters) on.
written past part. of WRITE.
WRNS abbr. (in the UK) Women's Royal Naval Service.
wrong adj., adv., n., & v. --adj. 1 mistaken; not true; in error
(gave a wrong answer; we were wrong to think that). 2
unsuitable; less or least desirable (the wrong road; a wrong
decision). 3 contrary to law or morality (it is wrong to
steal). 4 amiss; out of order, in or into a bad or abnormal
condition (something wrong with my heart; my watch has gone
wrong). --adv. (usually placed last) in a wrong manner or
direction; with an incorrect result (guessed wrong; told them
wrong). --n. 1 what is morally wrong; a wrong action. 2
injustice; unjust action or treatment (suffer wrong). --v.tr.
1 treat unjustly; do wrong to. 2 mistakenly attribute bad
motives to; discredit. Ьdo wrong commit sin; transgress,
offend. do wrong to malign or mistreat (a person). get in
wrong with incur the dislike or disapproval of (a person). get
on the wrong side of fall into disfavour with. get wrong 1
misunderstand (a person, statement, etc.). 2 obtain an
incorrect answer to. get (or get hold of) the wrong end of the
stick misunderstand completely. go down the wrong way (of food)
enter the windpipe instead of the gullet. go wrong 1 take the
wrong path. 2 stop functioning properly. 3 depart from
virtuous or suitable behaviour. in the wrong responsible for a
quarrel, mistake, or offence. on the wrong side of 1 out of
favour with (a person). 2 somewhat more than (a stated age).
wrong-foot colloq. 1 (in tennis, football, etc.) play so as to
catch (an opponent) off balance. 2 disconcert; catch
unprepared. wrong-headed perverse and obstinate.
wrong-headedly in a wrong-headed manner. wrong-headedness the
state of being wrong-headed. wrong side the worse or undesired
or unusable side of something, esp. fabric. wrong side out
inside out. wrong way round in the opposite or reverse of the
normal or desirable orientation or sequence etc. ЬЬwronger n.
wrongly adv. wrongness n. [OE wrang f. ON rangr awry, unjust,
rel. to WRING]
wrongdoer n. a person who behaves immorally or illegally. ЬЬwrongdoing
wrongful adj. 1 characterized by unfairness or injustice. 2 contrary to
law. 3 (of a person) not entitled to the position etc.
occupied. ЬЬwrongfully adv. wrongfulness n.
wrong'un n. colloq. a person of bad character. [contr. of wrong one]
wrote past of WRITE.
wroth predic.adj. archaic angry. [OE wrath f. Gmc]
wrought archaic past and past part. of WORK. --adj. (of metals) beaten
out or shaped by hammering. Ьwrought iron a tough malleable
form of iron suitable for forging or rolling, not cast.
wrung past and past part. of WRING.
WRVS abbr. (in the UK) Women's Royal Voluntary Service.
wry adj. (wryer, wryest or wrier, wriest) 1 distorted or turned to
one side. 2 (of a face or smile etc.) contorted in disgust,
disappointment, or mockery. 3 (of humour) dry and mocking.
ЬЬwryly adv. wryness n. [wry (v.) f. OE wrigian tend, incline,
in ME deviate, swerve, contort]
wryneck n. 1 = TORTICOLLIS. 2 any bird of the genus Jynx of the
woodpecker family, able to turn its head over its shoulder.
wych- comb. form (also wich-, witch-) in names of trees with pliant
branches. [OE wic(e) app. f. a Gmc root meaning 'bend': rel. to
n. an American plant, Fothergilla gardenii, with alder-like
wych-elm n. a species of elm, Ulmus glabra.
n. 1 var. of WITCH-HAZEL. 2 = WYCH-ELM.
adj. & n. --adj. of or concerning Winchester College. --n. a
past or present member of Winchester College. [mod.L
Wykehamista f. William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester and
founder of the college (d. 1404)]
wyn var. of WEN(2).
wynd n. Sc. a narrow street or alley. [ME, app. f. the stem of
Wyo. abbr. Wyoming.
WYSIWYG adj. (also wysiwyg) Computing denoting the representation of
text onscreen in a form exactly corresponding to its appearance
on a printout. [acronym of what you see is what you get]
wyvern n. (also wivern) Heraldry a winged two-legged dragon with a
barbed tail. [ME wyver f. OF wivre, guivre f. L vipera: for -n