Definition of gear in English:



  • 1A toothed wheel that works with others to alter the relation between the speed of a driving mechanism (such as the engine of a vehicle) and the speed of the driven parts (the wheels)

    ‘a racing bike with ten-speed gears’
    • ‘The engines are cross-coupled so that each propeller is run by two diesel engines through clutch and cone belt transmission gears.’
    • ‘With a loud creak and groan, the wall behind the cross was pulled upwards by a series of mechanical gears to reveal a heavy metal door.’
    • ‘This process is, of course, generally used on the larger castings and was originally introduced for the production of gears, worm wheels and cored bars.’
    • ‘The machine consisted of replaceable shafts, gears, wheels, handles, electric motors, and disks and required much manual work to set it up.’
    • ‘It is quite a funky bike, coming complete with suspension on the front wheel, rotary shift gears, the oddest bell known to mankind, and rapid release wheels.’
    • ‘Again, mechanical gears allow you to see the various orbits.’
    • ‘The team relied purely on programming and built a simple robot that used wheels rather than gears for its movement.’
    • ‘Fitted with whirring wheels, gears and other devices, the old mechanical toys have acquired retro-cool status among many affluent young collectors.’
    • ‘Oddly her head starts making mechanical noises like gears grinding together.’
    • ‘I love a mystery, but not if you hear the gears and wheels clinking and clanking in the background.’
    • ‘It was like an essential oil, which lubricated the myriad moving parts, the gears and wheels of the mine's complex infrastructure.’
    • ‘The machine occupied a whole room, filling it with a tangle of piano wires and pulleys to move its various wheels and gears.’
    • ‘Wheels turned and gears ground while he thought that one over.’
    • ‘The door slid back with a loud whine and creak of the mechanical and electric gears.’
    • ‘The spacing of the gears allows engine speeds to be reduced and the torque curve to be better exploited.’
    • ‘We checked the massive engine room and filmed the now rusty gears on the open gearbox.’
    • ‘A mechanical controller has gears and mechanical timers.’
    • ‘The aim of nanotechnology is to manipulate molecules atom by atom, treating them like mechanical devices with gears, wheels, levers, hooks, pivots, locks and keys.’
    • ‘One major problem with using a conventional set of gears is that gears have a ratio relationship between their input and output.’
    • ‘Try a hybrid that takes the wheels and gears of a road bike and places them on a mountain bike frame.’
    1. 1.1A particular setting of engaged gears.
      ‘he was belting along in fifth gear’
      • ‘It slides smoothly and effortlessly into lower gears but fifth gear is a bit notchy and I have a bit of a tussle to engage it.’
      • ‘One of the two clutches engages the odd-numbered and the other the even-numbered gears.’
      • ‘Overdrive gears improve the fuel economy of your car during highway driving.’
      • ‘The shifts are not only quick, but require very little throttle liftoff to change gears.’
      • ‘Plant your foot, even in manual mode, at 130 mph, and it will change down two gears to fourth and scream off towards the 155 mph limiter.’
      • ‘The engine will quite happily sit at the legal limit in fifth gear at under 2000 revs.’
      • ‘This system allows you to change gears like a manual car when you want to have some fun, but behaves like a regular automatic when you're in the mood to just take it easy.’
      • ‘Use that torque to good effect and it will amble along in the higher gears, barely sipping diesel.’
      • ‘In the auto-shift mode the system chooses the most logical gear for engine speed and fuel economy at any time.’
      • ‘The former Tour of Spain points winner was disappointed with the result, saying that problems changing gears curtailed his speed.’
      • ‘That is this car's major selling point, but turn the traction control off and hit the loud pedal hard enough to kick down the gears, and the sheer violence of the forward motion would humble a fighter jet.’
      • ‘The only problem was with following the optimum gearchange indicator when changing gears - I wanted to hold onto the revs for that little bit longer especially on some of the steeper slopes.’
      • ‘The manual box is pretty nifty, but heavy to select reverse, and the overdrive sixth and high fifth gears mean it depends on left wrist exercise.’
      • ‘I retired because I had no hydraulic pressure, so I could not change down through the gears, which is why I went wide and had to use the run-off area.’
      • ‘The system allows the driver to manually shift gears or drive in an automatic mode.’
      • ‘Your ears start to hurt from the pressure in fifth and sixth gears; now I know why people wear helmets with these machines.’
      • ‘There is the option to change gears manually, but when the auto box is this good, there really is no need to go manual.’
      • ‘Unusually for a sportscar of this type, it comes with six gears, making the occasional motorway cruise all the more bearable.’
      • ‘Louise shifts up and down through the gears without altering her speed.’
      • ‘The available sport setting automatically selects gears according to a sporty shift characteristic curve.’
    2. 1.2Used in reference to the level of effort or intensity expended in an activity or undertaking.
      ‘from this weekend, the campaign is expected to step up a gear’
      ‘now the champions moved up a gear’
      ‘the play moves down a gear whenever he walks off stage’
      • ‘With the scores at 10 -, and Town dominant, Odsal stepped up a gear to try and breach the Town defence.’
      • ‘We need to step a up gear soon in order to get the job done.’
      • ‘The Motown slowdown is in high gear this week.’
      • ‘The food, the environs, the ambience are all in top gear for a grand welcome to "Mahabali Chakravarthy."’
      • ‘When the United States entered World War II, the country had to move quickly into high gear.’
      • ‘As I shifted into gear in preparation for the 1965 Mr. America, I saw less of the Dream Team and more of the inside of a tuna can.’
      • ‘As the competition speeds up into high gear, Diamandis said there are several additional sponsorships still available for the Ansari X Prize competition.’
      • ‘After James Young narrowed the gap with a fine point Castletown suddenly stepped up a gear and within minutes were six points clear.’
      • ‘As for dedicated ICQ users, they'll be delighted their favourite program has revved up a gear.’
      • ‘Perhaps the biggest source of comfort was the fact City at least got a result even though they never quite found top gear.’
      • ‘Poor passing and delivery had been letting Laois down but they suddenly found a higher gear and Chris Conway and Paul Lawlor finished a couple of great moves.’
      • ‘For example, as I write this, the Democratic primaries currently are in high gear, and every candidate has at least one official Weblog.’
      • ‘Local girls u13 basketball team were noticably in top gear at the Co. Kildare community games final played at Kilcullen on Wednesday, May 24.’
      • ‘Now I'd like to take you briefly through a timeline of election day, as the different players and pieces step up a gear.’
      • ‘So it appears the program has either fizzled, not yet kicked into high gear, or been relatively dropped.’
      • ‘Esposito came back as expected, but it was at this point that Hall stepped up a gear.’
  • 2[mass noun], [usually with modifier] Equipment or apparatus that is used for a particular purpose.

    ‘camping gear’
    • ‘To that point, it is a good idea to have personal protective gear, say, in your car, in case of an emergency.’
    • ‘Many of these workers are working in hazardous environmental conditions without face masks, without proper gear.’
    • ‘Prizes also include sunglasses, clothes and electronic gear.’
    • ‘They caught five poachers, equipped with modern rappelling gear, in possession of six bags of bird nests.’
    • ‘On his back were a parachute and 100-pound rucksack crammed with clothes, food, medical gear and other stuff.’
    • ‘They had the right guns and gear, boots, hat, and clothes.’
    • ‘Although safety may be a consideration, not enough people use safety gear, and even when they do, they are not invincible.’
    • ‘There is protective gear and people are safe that way.’
    • ‘Inside was a bunch of dirt bike clothes and gear.’
    • ‘As for gear, many people are using the small mini-disc recorders in the field these days.’
    • ‘Her mother then ventured inside to get her some clothes and some sanitary gear.’
    • ‘The support vehicle also carries two operators with their personal and mission gear.’
    • ‘To make shopping easy, the company arranges its catalog according to clothing, accessories, gear, and gifts.’
    • ‘Any juvenile attending training must have the proper handball gear (goggles and gloves) to prevent injury.’
    • ‘A few weeks after they'd gone missing, some of their personal dive gear washed up on a beach 75 miles from the dive site.’
    • ‘First stop was to pick up the bags with the fresh clothes and camping gear from the truck, then set up the tent.’
    • ‘I went to the fire house and I said, why do you have all this gear and boots and jackets and stuff?’
    • ‘For maximum ride safety, your personal clothing and gear should also feature reflective elements.’
    • ‘We fly around taking gear and people from one place to the next, sometimes all night long, just stopping to refuel.’
    • ‘The lesson taught by the headmaster was that a rescue knife to cut harnessing and webbing should be essential gear for Navy rescue personnel.’
    1. 2.1informal Clothing, especially of a specified kind.
      ‘designer gear’
      • ‘When out shopping, find a shop selling quality gear for half the price of what it would cost to dress in designer gear.’
      • ‘Worst of all was a basketful of designer gear, delicate fabrics and complicated creases.’
      • ‘At first, the onstage listeners (dressed in basic ballet gear, plus hats, glasses and handbags) are caught up in their own individual responses.’
      • ‘These limp fashion disasters are surely worn by the same people who in six months time will be strutting down the beaches of Ibiza parading the latest designer gear.’
      • ‘As it was, he was also wearing his travelling gear, painfully bright clothing that stood out a mile against his dark skin.’
      • ‘He expanded his clothing line from basketball gear to lifestyle wear.’
      • ‘And from this minor blip things rapidly escalate; by the middle of week two, he's openly cheating and dressed top-to-toe in designer gear.’
      • ‘A new survey claims Scots don't care for designer gear.’
      • ‘Do everyday clothes as dance gear impact its otherness as an experience?’
      • ‘Expect to find savings of up to 70 per cent on clothes, with best buys in the outer wear, party gear and children's clothes sections.’
      • ‘He has a Santa Claus-like beard and often wears vintage leather motorcycle gear.’
      • ‘To avoid bramble scratches and tick attacks, wear long gear and good shoes.’
      • ‘The fashion parade will feature a beautiful collection of clothes, from flowing evening gowns to funky techno gear showcased by local models.’
      • ‘They were Mexicans, elegant in their designer safari gear.’
      • ‘So the crumpled, unshaven look is strictly last season and those who are with it are found in designer gear and sports shoes.’
      • ‘The audience had the usual haircuts, shaven or spiky, and the same tastes in branded designer gear.’
      • ‘It was a large archway beneath the railway lines, filled with smoke, camouflage netting and PR people in army gear.’
      • ‘I know somebody who used to work with them and witnessed refusal of clothing because it was not designer gear.’
      • ‘Have you considered putting them in cool leather biker gear or spandex outfits?’
      • ‘Even though it was just after Christmas, not one child out of the 30 or so there was wearing any designer gear.’
    2. 2.2informal Personal possessions and clothes.
      ‘I told her to come back to my place with all her gear’
      • ‘With all our food, water, fuel and personal gear safely stowed atop our jeeps, we were off.’
      • ‘The hard briefcase will help protect your personal gear, but it's normally heavier and cumbersome.’
      • ‘If a crewmember bailed you out by loaning you personal gear be extra, extra generous!’
      • ‘It was a four-day trip, each man carrying his own rations, sleeping bag, clothing and personal gear.’
      • ‘It excels in affordable, bright, trendy, big personality clothes and club gear.’
      • ‘For one thing, a small mule train will follow behind your group, carrying food, tents, and 15 pounds of your personal gear.’
      • ‘Out came more personal gear, in went more ammo and water.’
      • ‘The next day the girl returns and starts bringing in her clothes and other personal gear!’
      • ‘We had five trips, moving our personal gear, then the group stores and finally the deflated rafts.’
      • ‘They forced us to remove all our gear (food, clothes, sleeping bags etc) and confiscated anything that wasn't moved off the grounds.’
      • ‘They walked with their webbing packed full of ammunition and in their haversacks they carried five days' bully beef and biscuits and a minimum of personal gear.’
    3. 2.3British informal Illegal drugs.
      ‘Murray got him some gear’
      • ‘Some of his worst moments include ‘running around the inner city after drug dealers looking for gear, dragging my five kids with me’.’
      • ‘One guy, who he hadn't met before, had an almost instantaneous bad reaction to the gear and was sick in minutes.’
      • ‘I'm now trying to view gear like one of the countries I have travelled to.’
      • ‘People are there when you need them, and you realise that there's more to life than running around trying to get money for a bag of gear.’
      • ‘All they want is money to buy gear and they don't care how they get it.’
      • ‘I was only out for five and a half months, getting out of my face on gear all the time.’
      • ‘Every time he reawakened he got up and went to the nearest drug dealer around him and bought gear, and we were watching him, through the double-barrelled shotgun.’
      • ‘The smackheads (heroin users) are using it then coming down on gear (heroin).’
      • ‘Even our drugs are better quality than our kids' gear.’
      • ‘Everyday was the same: go out and find gear even if it meant ripping off a really good friend or in most cases a girlfriend, like me.’
      • ‘After that I thought I was cured and went back to using gear.’
      • ‘My girlfriend stood by me, had faith in me that I would get off the gear and get clean.’
      • ‘When I got back to Blackburn, because I'd been drinking and smoking a lot of cannabis over there, I went back on to the gear again.’
      • ‘It wasn't me and I met a new friend and he gave me some gear for myself and said that if I did some runs for him he would give me more.’
      narcotic, stimulant, hallucinogen, addictive drug, recreational drug, illegal drug, substance
      View synonyms


  • Design or adjust the gears in a machine to give a specified speed or power output.

    ‘the vehicle's geared too high for serious off-road use’
    • ‘Despite being geared to reach its top speed in the fifth of its seven gears, you can never quite escape the V10's voice.’
    • ‘The transmission is geared for power, economy and smooth transition, and is designed to withstand tough working conditions.’
    • ‘The camshaft is geared to turn at one-half the rate of the crankshaft.’
    • ‘Ride quality is reasonable; suspension is geared to off-roading rather than sheer comfort.’
    • ‘This library implementation is geared for speed rather than memory efficiency and is single-threaded which makes it unsuitable for many uses.’


  • change (or switch or shift) gear

    • Adopt a different approach to a situation or task.

      ‘from February 1942, British air strategy changed gear’
  • in (or into) gear

    • 1With a gear engaged.

      ‘he revved the engines and put them in gear’
      • ‘It drives like a bus with, if anything, a slightly larger turning circle, and the gearshift is so floppy that it all but collapses the distinction between being in gear and being in neutral.’
      • ‘With second-hand vehicles, you get a car that isn't perfect, because it has been run, parked in supermarkets, started in gear and the seat belt has been jammed in the door several times.’
      • ‘He glanced into the rear-view mirror, put it in gear, and pulled out of his parking space.’
      • ‘Ensure that the vehicle is in gear with hand brake engaged when parked.’
      • ‘Sighing, he put the automobile in gear and drove off down the street.’
      • ‘The engine restarts automatically when the car is put back in gear.’
      • ‘Chris quickly threw the Jeep in gear and drove off.’
      • ‘But automakers should learn to illuminate them only when in gear, not while idling in park.’
      • ‘In a few short moments, he put the car in gear and drove off.’
      • ‘Just put the key in, turn it on, put it in gear and you're off.’
      1. 1.1Proceeding with energy, determination, or speed.
        ‘I couldn't get myself into gear early enough on Saturday morning’
        • ‘Samples of the chip will be available this autumn, with sales efforts getting into gear by next year.’
        • ‘Florence marked a shift in gear - from building resistance to building an alternative.’
        • ‘Walter believes we need coordinated international stimulus along neo-Keynesian lines to shift the world economy back into gear.’
        • ‘All three candidates who will debate tonight on Brockton cable TV got their campaigns in gear last month.’
        • ‘To really get into gear, you need to find your rhythm.’
        • ‘You probably have made a substantial investment in gear, with which you're very familiar.’
        • ‘Current EPA director Lee Thomas has worked hard to get the agency back into gear.’
        • ‘Perhaps a good fresh read will kick my brain into gear.’
        • ‘Find a degree program to get your education in gear!’
        • ‘With an electric rather than conventional hydraulic transmission, shifting the 7-series into gear is also a bit unusual.’
  • out of gear

    • With no gear engaged.

      ‘she took the engine out of gear’
      figurative ‘sometimes his brain seems to slip out of gear’
      • ‘Always remember to take your car out of gear when you push it.’
      • ‘I run up the ladder and hear the engine on that side go out of gear.’
      • ‘Martin later told his father he had moved the indicator, taken the car out of gear and got hold of the steering wheel.’
      • ‘This time around, though, rivals may feel compelled to spend to keep up - and that could be key to keeping the economy from slipping out of gear.’
      • ‘He tried to grab the steering wheel but my hands were so stiff he couldn't move it so he put the handbrake on and knocked it out of gear.’
      • ‘She makes an appointment to see the doctor, thinking she's pregnant again, and he asks her to sit down and as she does so, she notices that his voice has slipped out of gear.’
      • ‘Ensure the gear box is in good working condition, doesn't have false neutrals, or slips out of gear under power.’
      • ‘You cannot allow these people to knock you out of gear.’
      • ‘I speed up on that side for five seconds, and then seeing the fish closing up, throw the engine out of gear.’
      • ‘So whenever we try talking we're either like two magnets slinking closer, and then pinging away from each other, or like an engine revving out of gear.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • gear down

    • Change to a lower gear.

      ‘we geared down to creep through the square’
      • ‘Take it slow, increase your distance from other traffic, signal your intentions early and gear down rather than brake whenever you can.’
      • ‘Plus, there are tons of controversies on the ‘best’ way to handle some situations (gear up or gear down, shut off fuel or use what power is left, etc.).’
      • ‘But unfortunately, when they geared up, I think they forgot to gear down.’
      • ‘They were trying to gear down from Central Park and get ready to go to the JJB Stadium.’
      • ‘For example, he would maintain 6.5 mph at 50 rpm in one gear and then, as he geared down, he found he maintained 8 mph at 70 rpm without a perceived increase in effort.’
      • ‘He believed he geared down three gears, which would have put him at about 60-65 k/hr.’
      • ‘You enjoy the soundtrack a lot more in the convertible version, and I could often be found in tunnels, gearing down, top down, and enjoying the soundtrack of this engine.’
      • ‘As hitters gear up, he gears down, recording outs with changeups traveling as slowly as 68 mph.’
      • ‘Around the province, some coastal communities will be gearing up for certain fisheries, while others will be gearing down from other activities.’
      • ‘Once on an icy section, do not accelerate, brake, gear down, or make a sudden change in steering direction.’
  • gear someone/thing for

    • Make ready; prepare.

      ‘a nation geared for war’
      • ‘At the moment White Lion Park is geared for little children but we are concerned they may want to use the concrete ramps on the skateboard park.’
      • ‘He said everything was set for this gala and that Zambia was geared for the event.’
      • ‘On his team's readiness for next weekend's opening tie, he said it was geared for action and that the five preparatory games the team played prior to the match had boosted the mental preparedness of the players.’
      • ‘They are geared for tomorrow's crucial third round, first leg encounter.’
      • ‘It amazes me how much supplies in Montreal are geared for the apartment inhabitant.’
      • ‘‘That's why we are geared for the challenge,’ he said.’
      • ‘‘This result will not deter our plans for the final and we are geared for it,’ he said.’
      • ‘Of course, putting it all into perspective, last year I was heavier, smoked cigarettes, drank too much et al, but this year, having 12 months smoke free and training my eyes out, I was geared for a good showing.’
  • gear something for/to/towards

    • Adapt something to make it suitable for (someone or something)

      ‘our trips are geared for clubbers and hen and stag parties’
      ‘they gear workouts to your specific needs’
      • ‘Giving strategic direction to an organization is not simply a case of analysing the needs of consumers and gearing its resources to earn good short-term profits from meeting these needs.’
      • ‘School holidays are geared to there being one available parent, and the assumption is that will be the woman.’
      • ‘‘Every parent wants the best for their child, and our schools are geared to providing that service,’ David concluded.’
      • ‘The latest updates are geared towards adapting to security threats.’
      • ‘They could gear their production to produce vast amounts of whatever the mass market wanted.’
      • ‘They have an acute sense of anticipating and knowing members' needs, adapting to new technology and gearing their products to changing consumer desires.’
      • ‘You know, I'm gearing my training towards just becoming better with everyone.’
      • ‘My personal efforts are geared towards not intentionally harming people, as I would prefer if people would not intentionally harm me.’
      • ‘A lot of our training this year has been geared towards that.’
      • ‘At the same time, they have geared their alternative policy to be friendly towards private industry as well as rural conservation.’
  • gear up

    • 1Equip or prepare oneself.

      ‘the region geared up for the tourist season’
      • ‘Newspapers better be prepared to gear up for 2005 innovations.’
      • ‘We're geared up for minimum damage this time.’
      • ‘Beer lovers are getting ready to celebrate with a drink as they gear up for a three-day beer festival.’
      • ‘‘Manchester, an exciting, go-ahead city, is well geared up for it,’ said the Prime Minister.’
      • ‘However an official said: ‘The airport is well geared up for the situation.’’
      • ‘But both the backers and the foes are now gearing up for a battle over an even stricter proposed amendment.’
      • ‘It's going to take awhile after the storm passes for these refineries to gear back up again.’
      • ‘He added that the trust was now gearing up for an even tougher target.’
      • ‘Trainees were able to learn about the processes in the fabrication plant and the names of all the parts and equipment beforehand to ensure they were fully prepared and geared up for the detailed training course.’
      • ‘They believe this is in part a warm-up for the next Supreme Court fight, and a warm-up for these interest groups to get their troops geared up for the 2006 mid - term elections.’
      get ready, prepare, make preparations, arrange things, make provision, get everything set, take the necessary steps, do the necessary, lay the groundwork, do the spadework, gird up one's loins, kit oneself out, rig oneself out, arm oneself
      psych oneself up
      prepare, make preparations, make provisions, get everything ready, make ready, take the necessary steps, do the necessary
      View synonyms
    • 2Change to a higher gear.

      1. 2.1(of a company) increase its borrowings.
        ‘the group will be gearing up this year’
        • ‘But as long as overall demand keeps growing even modestly, chances are high that businesses will become confident enough to gear up again by year end and into 2003.’
        • ‘Just as private landlords gear up to increase their returns, so property companies do likewise.’
        • ‘The ability to borrow money and gear up can also give the trusts an ‘extra kick.’’
        • ‘The percentage return would have been even greater had you geared up by using a mortgage.’
        • ‘There is evidence that larger rivals in the Irish market have been gearing up and restructuring to stop the Anglo business banking juggernaut.’
        • ‘The second is that borrowers have geared up on the expectation that interest rates will stay low for long.’
        • ‘Investment trusts can also gear up, by borrowing money to invest if they so wish.’
        • ‘In fact, they would much rather businesses gear up with some debt so less of the company's own assets are being used.’
        • ‘Provided things are going well, debt financing helps a company gear up to boost returns, but investors know the dangers of debt.’
        • ‘These low interest rates have allowed borrowers to gear up - low monthly payments mean they can afford to take on much more debt than in the past.’
  • gear someone/thing up

    • Adapt or equip someone or something for a purpose.

      ‘a city not geared up to an outdoor lifestyle’


Middle English: of Scandinavian origin; compare with Old Norse gervi. Early senses expressed the general meaning ‘equipment or apparatus’, later ‘mechanism’: hence gear (early 19th century).