Definition of feather in US English:

feather

noun

  • 1Any of the flat appendages growing from a bird's skin and forming its plumage, consisting of a partly hollow horny shaft fringed with vanes of barbs.

    • ‘Air rushing over the birds' feathers produces turbulence.’
    • ‘A natural but erroneous conclusion would be that oil is needed on the bird's skin and feathers.’
    • ‘A number of hypotheses have been suggested for the origin of birds and feathers.’
    • ‘He suddenly reached into the pocket of his pants and took out a long speckled feather.’
    • ‘Clean feathers allow birds to use their power of flight to forage for food, escape predators, and maybe just have some fun.’
    • ‘When the color of the landscape changes, females shed their white plumage as brown replacement feathers grow in.’
    • ‘Some dinosaurs are known to have had long tail plumes and large feathers on the backs of their hands - not for flight, but perhaps for display of some kind.’
    • ‘Found in 1877 and now on display at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, the fossil bird had unusually long feathers around its legs.’
    • ‘One stray feather sat mournfully closer to the door.’
    • ‘The birds also use barbed wire, snake skin, feathers and bone as nest materials.’
    • ‘But the creature's most unusual feature was a set of long, asymmetric feathers with hooked barbs on its hind limbs and forelimbs.’
    • ‘Her dream was all but forgotten as she looked up into the trees, trying to find the owner of the feather.’
    • ‘He realized that they were coming from his bathroom and he opened the door slowly to see that the window was open and there was a big, black feather on the floor.’
    • ‘‘Although, if you do have a nice stiff turkey feather, that'd be good,’ he said.’
    • ‘Geoffrey Hill, a biologist at Auburn University in Alabama, studies coloring in bird feathers.’
    • ‘How am I supposed to tell them from any other feather?’
    • ‘Besides having forelimbs that resemble the wings of modern birds, the animal sported long feathers from thigh to foot on each hind limb.’
    • ‘I admired the apple green plumage on its chest that flowed into the fiery orange tail feathers and wing feathers.’
    • ‘Scientists theorize that birds could use toxins in their feathers and skin to ward off parasites and insects.’
    • ‘Primary wing feathers create the flight surface, thus allowing birds to fly.’
    plume, quill
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 One of the feathers or featherlike vanes fastened to the shaft of an arrow or a dart.
      • ‘I knelt beside it, and discovered the feathers of an arrow piercing her flank.’
      • ‘His quiver had a protective flap to keep the feathers dry on the arrows.’
      • ‘There were several different colored feathers on the arrows from red to blue and green to white.’
      • ‘Using her knife she kept just inside the tent flap, she cut the arrowhead and feather from the shaft, tossing them back inside with her knife.’
      • ‘The notch behind each arrow's feather fits neatly into the bow string.’
      • ‘Nicola reached the stall with the green flags, and found a girl about her age attaching feathers to arrows, stopping momentarily to survey her work.’
      • ‘Reaching within his long coat, he pulled out a long dart, wedged a feather in the end, a white flighter with a red dot, and gripped his rifle.’
      • ‘Likewise, skydivers don't want to be tumbling end over end and out of control, so they trail their arms and feet behind them to act like the feathers on the arrow.’
      • ‘Arrow flights were nearly always made of feather.’
      • ‘This partial yellow tail feather was attached to the end of the weapon shaft together with at least one other larger unidentified brown feather.’
      • ‘The odd fletching (on my arrows the feathers were colour coded) must be at right angles to the string.’
      • ‘These arrows have over-large feathers wrapped around the shaft and will slow to a stop within a short distance due to wind drag.’
    2. 1.2feathers A fringe of long hair on the legs of a dog, horse, or other animal.
      • ‘Use a pin brush or slicker brush in the feathers to separate the hair and to remove tangles.’

verb

  • 1with object Rotate the blades of (a propeller) about their own axes in such a way as to lessen the air or water resistance.

    • ‘We feathered the propeller and discussed our options.’
    • ‘He had Lieutenant Stormer secure the port engine and feather the propeller.’
    • ‘As the colonel secured the engines and feathered the propellers, the aircraft momentarily became airborne because of the reduced drag.’
    • ‘Once the propeller was feathered, the drag reduced, and we could maintain directional control, as well as increase altitude and airspeed.’
    • ‘The engine was shut down and the propeller feathered.’
    • ‘I reacted by feathering the right propeller and securing the right engine.’
    • ‘We secured the port engine and feathered its propeller before we lost all the pitch-change fluid from the pitch-control unit on the port propeller.’
    • ‘A fire erupted in the starboard engine and the pilot was unable to feather the propeller.’
    • ‘Ken shut down the engine and feathered the propeller while Bob returned to his turret.’
    • ‘After shutdown and confirmation, the propeller feathered with no pitchlock, and the pilots completed the emergency procedures.’
    • ‘We were surprised, since the engine already was shut down, and the propeller was feathered.’
    • ‘The propeller was not feathered and more oil was coming out of the front of the engine.’
    • ‘Following this, he feathered the three propellers then unfeathered one at a time in an attempt to restart at least one engine, without success.’
    • ‘With an engine failure, the prop couldn't be feathered.’
    • ‘Lieutenant Emerson was able to get the fire extinguished, then he feathered the propeller.’
    • ‘The crew had experienced minor difficulty in getting the propeller to fully feather.’
    • ‘He shut down the engine, feathered the propeller and entered a power-off emergency descent.’
    1. 1.1 Vary the angle of attack of (rotor blades).
      • ‘Orbiting over the airport, he undertook a series of flight tests which included stalls, feathering and restarting each engine, and a beat-up on the field.’
      • ‘Flames were roaring out of the left nacelle as Hart pulled the fire bottles, yanked the throttle back, and feathered the prop.’
    2. 1.2Rowing Turn (an oar) so that it passes through the air edgewise.
      ‘he turned, feathering one oar slowly’
      • ‘The others, even the ones who had never rowed before this day, feathered their oars like pros and smiled like kids in the candy store.’
  • 2no object, with adverbial Float, move, or wave like a feather.

    ‘the green fronds feathered against a blue sky’
    • ‘Twigs and leaves, from overgrown bushes - half hung in the road - bashed and feathered against his clothes.’
    1. 2.1with object Touch (someone or something) very lightly.
      • ‘He had incredible touch and eye, feathering the ball one moment, punching it away the next.’
      • ‘Granite - a single slab, unbroken and unmarred, smoothed by sun and rain, hugged by trees where it met surrounding the cliff, with fern and moss feathering it as it touched the pool's edge.’
  • 3with object Shorten or taper the hair by cutting or trimming.

    ‘my sister had her hair feathered’
    • ‘Her feathered, honey-blond hair is splayed around her, her lips are glossy, and her white halter dress and heels present a doll-like plasticity.’
    • ‘She had short, feathered, auburn hair with black streaks.’
    • ‘A pretty news anchor woman was stood on the Creek pier, microphone in hand and her blond hair nicely feathered.’
    • ‘Individual strands of hair feathered beneath my comb, and I examined them all closely.’

Phrases

  • a feather in one's cap

    • An achievement to be proud of.

      • ‘It's a bit of a feather in their cap if they can keep him quiet because he's run riot this season.’
      • ‘The best I can say is that he is in charge and if he was to do well that would be a feather in his cap.’
      • ‘He's a feather in our cap and we need more like him around here.’
      • ‘‘That's a feather in your cap,’ someone told me today.’
      • ‘It's a feather in his cap because when he goes in to negotiate funding again he can point to us and use that as leverage to get more money.’
      • ‘‘It's a feather in your cap when you are asked to be captain, especially by someone like Paul Broadbent,’ he said.’
      • ‘Entertaining the Queen was undoubtedly a feather in my cap.’
      • ‘I consider that a feather in my cap and, if all goes to plan, John Hughes will join us for similar reasons.’
      • ‘It's another area where he feels he's entitled to a feather in his cap.’
      • ‘Medical director at the Royal Oldham Hospital, Roger Glew said: ‘There is no doubt that beating off competition from other hospitals across the country to take part in this prestigious research project is a feather in our cap.’’
  • feather one's (own) nest

    • Make money illicitly and at someone else's expense.

      • ‘An admirer of Robert Owen, he thought that he could improve the lives of the working poor (and feather his own nest) by creating a community in which his workers owed every element of their existence to him.’
      • ‘They are in this line of work to feather their own nest.’
      • ‘The people simply don't believe that politics has much changed, and regard the entire lot of politicians as corrupt species out to feather their own nest.’
      • ‘A whole bunch of so called scientists, lawyers and, most important, politicians, have taken it over in the meantime to feather their own nest.’
      • ‘But the way they (the politicians) have feathered their own nest in the last few years is corrupt too.’
      • ‘But you may think I'm just feathering my own nest anyway, so the choice of who to believe is all yours.’
      • ‘If he had siphoned off taxes to feather his own nest, that would be a moral issue of public interest.’
      • ‘I don't mind that he may have feathered his nest (after all we live in a capitalist society where feathering nests is the be all and end all).’
      • ‘I also hope that in pointing out a minor aberration, you are not doing this to feather your own nest, young Lance.’
      make money
      View synonyms
  • (as) light as a feather

    • Extremely light and insubstantial.

      • ‘‘Alright, but I can't promise that I'll be light as a feather,’ she said as she jumped on his back and brought her arms around his neck.’
      • ‘It was light as a feather, equally balanced as well.’
      • ‘Yesterday I had trouble lifting a bucket of sand that two weekends ago was as light as a feather.’
      • ‘After a full massage, including my stomach, I felt absolutely wonderful - light as a feather.’
      • ‘They are flaky and perfect and light as a feather.’
      • ‘He handled his sword as if it were light as a feather.’
      • ‘It is light as a feather, but very strong and durable.’
      • ‘The thing does a good job, and it's as light as a feather.’
      • ‘Well, you're not exactly light as a feather either!’
      • ‘Priced at $299.99, this device is only 0.39-inches thick and light as a feather.’

Origin

Old English fether, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch veer and German Feder, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit patra ‘wing’, Latin penna ‘feather’, and Greek pteron, pterux ‘wing’.

Pronunciation

feather

/ˈfeT͟Hər//ˈfɛðər/