One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Usually with hyphen. Of a vehicle: having tall or large wheels; specifically designating a bicycle with a large front wheel and a small rear one, popular from the early 1870s to the mid 1890s; an ordinary or penny farthing (now historical).
1A spinning-wheel on which the spindle is driven by a very large wheel, especially one worked by hand.
2A bicycle with a large front wheel and a small rear one; a penny farthing.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in The Public Advertiser. From high + wheel.
high wheel/ˈhʌɪ wiːl/
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