Definition of wire in US English:



  • 1Metal drawn out into the form of a thin flexible thread or rod.

    • ‘Outside on the plaza lay piles of granite still to be put in place, pallets stacked up on the grass, and more rolls of copper wire yet to be slotted in to place.’
    • ‘Most grain elevators have thin wire cables to check the temperature of the grain inside.’
    • ‘For a temporary installation, use thin wire or a pretty ribbon to hang the frame from a nail tacked discreetly above the mirror.’
    • ‘As you place the sheet moss against the wire frame, attach it with thin wire, stitching the moss onto the frame with a traditional basting stitch.’
    • ‘He vaulted the thin wire fence and ran along the railway line.’
    • ‘Having very thin wire needles pushed into your skin and twiddled is a very bizarre experience.’
    • ‘Gates invited local cattlemen to test their wildest longhorns against his new fencing material, crafted of nothing more than thin wire and metal barbs.’
    • ‘Joining the disks are thin wire strands, painted yellow and orange, that zigzag across the front.’
    • ‘He had an unruly mess of light brown hair and dark chocolate brown eyes hidden behind thin golden wire glasses.’
    • ‘The earliest chronographs used vacuum tubes for timing and a thin copper wire to start and stop.’
    • ‘The twist ties were made of thin metal wire with a paper covering, and they rusted through after a few weeks.’
    • ‘Many acupuncturists will use needles so fine they are like very thin wire, and are usually completely painless when inserted.’
    • ‘They claimed that vast quantities of gold and silver thread and wire for making lace were being regularly imported into Ireland.’
    • ‘Wrap flexible but sturdy wire around one stake, up to the top of the post and staple it there.’
    • ‘Do not use thin wire, metal or plastic strapping, or other material that could seriously cut you if you fell against it hard enough.’
    • ‘Others were woven with thin copper wire, creating a seductively shiny and semisolid surface.’
    • ‘The finished aluminum coil may weigh only half as much as the equivalent copper wire coil.’
    • ‘Taylor suggested hanging fine wire nets or fishing line above the ground to confuse the geese but not hurt them.’
    • ‘But ancient cultures were the first to realize the creative potential of wire as artists turned thin gold threads into jewelry.’
    • ‘Glass beads on Maasai necklaces are strung onto thin commercial wire.’
    1. 1.1 A piece of wire.
      • ‘Barry was an older, but still very beefy and hairy ex-driller, with thick glasses repaired and re-repaired with bits and pieces of wire.’
      • ‘The easiest way to check this is with a long screwdriver or stiff piece of wire, such as a straightened-out coat hanger.’
      • ‘It was the same effect as bending a piece of wire back and forth - eventually it snaps.’
      • ‘To obtain out-of-reach food, the crow repeatedly took a piece of straight wire and bent it to create a hook.’
      • ‘For antennae, cut a 3-inch piece of plastic-coated wire, bend in half, and curl the ends.’
      • ‘An initial demonstration about how to manipulate, form and attach two pieces of wire was all that was needed to make these figures come alive.’
      • ‘Wrap the end of a piece of wire around a galvanized nail and wrap the end of a second piece of wire around a penny.’
      • ‘I just needed a piece of wire, or a stick or something.’
      • ‘The pots of all shade treatment plants were fitted with a wire frame consisting of two 46 cm pieces of metal wire that were bent into a U-shape.’
      • ‘Then she took off the ring I had given her, and unwound the foil, then rolled it between her hands into a long piece of silver wire.’
      • ‘I pulled out my piece of stiff metal wire and inserted it into the small keyhole on the outside of the door.’
      • ‘I once knew of a guy getting his wrist dislocated because a piece of wire got tangled up in a shackle and around his hand at the same time.’
      • ‘Diagonal pliers or ‘dikes’ are actually intended to cut pieces of wire or small metal hardware like pins or nails.’
      • ‘Kneeling down next to the door so that the keyhole was on eye level, I produced the piece of wire and file that he'd given me and proceeded to try my hand at picking the lock.’
      • ‘Thinking quickly, Brian used a piece of wire to hook the keys from inside the car.’
      • ‘You can also turn them into candle lanterns by twisting wire around the top of the jar and then fashioning a hanging loop from the same piece of wire.’
      • ‘Fasten the roses to your foam ring by taking short pieces of wire and pushing one end up the stem and into the base of the rose.’
      • ‘If you have to cultivate in wet conditions, twisting a piece of wire around the shovel can help break up the slabs of dirt.’
      • ‘This was a large empty corned beef tin, which had holes punched in the top and a piece of wire placed to make it easy to carry.’
      • ‘Add a piece of wire to the top of the chain, and make a loop for hanging.’
    2. 1.2 A length or quantity of wire used, for example, for fencing or to carry an electric current.
      • ‘Accordingly the current remained in the wires throughout the circuit so long as the main switch was on.’
      • ‘The barbs are at the end of electrical wires carrying 50,000 volts.’
      • ‘And, like fuses, they're basically lengths of wire designed to carry a certain number of amps.’
      • ‘In 1802, Davy showed that artificial light was produced by passing electrical current through a platinum wire.’
      • ‘In the simplest case, the wires carrying the electrical signals are used to form an electromagnet which attracts and releases a metal diaphragm.’
      • ‘Think of the analogy of an electric wire carrying more electricity than its diameter can safely carry.’
      • ‘Replacement of all old electric wires, poles and transformers to ensure a proper distribution of power to consumers had been ordered.’
      • ‘Because they are so long and carry so much current, the wires store huge amounts of power in the electric and magnetic fields that surround them.’
      • ‘Abnormal cells are cut out using a heated wire with an electrical current running through it.’
      • ‘Do wires degenerate when electric current is passed through them?’
      • ‘As the magnetic storm raged through the night, huge geomagnetically induced currents surged through the wires and cables.’
      • ‘To demonstrate the first of these behaviors, hold a magnetic compass near a wire conducting a DC current.’
      • ‘Research is also being carried out in England into the possible use of tasers, which fire darts connected to a wire that carries an electrical current powerful enough to incapacitate the target.’
      • ‘Also, a wire that has a current flowing through it, may heat-up and cause the temperature to rise sufficiently to ignite materials.’
      • ‘He showed that a magnet could induce an electrical current in a wire.’
      • ‘But I was wrong in my assumption, as there was no signs of wires bringing current to the house.’
      • ‘Iron creates the magnetic field and copper wires carry away the current generated.’
      • ‘Objecting to unsightly overhead wires to provide electric current, most British systems did not adopt electric traction until after 1900.’
      • ‘Much as current flows through a wire, these impulses, known as action potentials, travel down the axon from its origin near the cell body to its terminal.’
      • ‘The very small particles stream through wires and circuits creating currents of electricity.’
      cable, lead, flex
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3North American Horse racing A wire stretched across and above the track at the finish line of a racetrack.
      • ‘She finished five lengths behind Azeri at the wire.’
      • ‘The pair fought furiously through Churchill's long stretch and were on nearly even terms at the wire and needed the photo finish camera to separate them.’
      • ‘Bred by Devonia Stud, Royal Dragon was held up early in the one-mile turf contest but was able to range up into contention more than one furlong from the wire.’
  • 2An electronic listening device that can be concealed on a person.

    • ‘And now she was here, doing what he'd asked while he listened on a wire.’
  • 3North American informal A telegram or cablegram.

    • ‘I frequently went down to the C&O Coloma depot, and spent time there listening in on the wire with agent Baker.’
    • ‘Today, of course, we are no longer tethered to telegraph or telephone wires for conversation.’


[with object]
  • 1Install electric circuits or wires in.

    ‘wiring a plug’
    ‘they wired the place themselves’
    • ‘The first time that I realised I wanted to be an electronics engineer was when I rather foolishly wired up more than a few lightbulbs into a single plug with a three amp fuse and nearly blew a wall out of my parents' house.’
    • ‘In a second visit they found cables and a junction box in the loft wired up to bypass the meter.’
    • ‘The meeting discussed heating arrangements for the winter months and hope to get the prefab wired up for electricity during the next few weeks.’
    • ‘Kelvingrove was one of the first public buildings to be wired for electricity, and many of the original cables remain.’
    • ‘The granite-walled back garden is 29 feet long and 26 feet wide, and is in lawn with flowerbeds, shrubs and a wooden shed that has been wired for electricity.’
    • ‘Wooden decking runs around the back and side of the house and there is a large detached garage which is wired for electricity and includes a shower room.’
    • ‘Clays wired up the Christmas tree in the dormitory lounge so that the different frequencies of sound activated its red, green, blue and yellow lights.’
    • ‘Outside the house there is a detached garage with electric shutter and electricity wiring, while a cobbled driveway offers parking for six cars.’
    • ‘I installed fifteen LEDs with resistors - they are all wired up on an extra USB port in the keyboard.’
    • ‘All the other rooms were lit by candles and kerosene, seeing as their building had not been wired with electricity yet.’
    • ‘We wired a small electric light in parallel with the circuit to the engine heater.’
    • ‘However, far from being asleep, Seamus felt fully awake and annoyed at being wired up like an appliance.’
    • ‘A pathway leads to a workshop/utility room which is wired for electricity and plumbed for a washing machine.’
    • ‘The informer, who is wired up, is told by one of the News of the World team hidden in a nearby van to move aside so that the paper's photographer can get a clear view of the ‘gang’ to take a picture.’
    • ‘Matt took off down the corridors again, Mike in pursuit, heading for the balcony that would lead down to where the bombs had been wired up.’
    • ‘Electricians then wired the fiber to the company's office suite.’
    • ‘The machines at our disposal in the Home Ec room began their existence as treadle models that at some point had been wired for electricity.’
    • ‘A dedicated entertainment room has been wired up for surround-sound speakers and other home-cinema goodies.’
    • ‘We wired up the tents to a generator and wired up all the shops to a switch that goes to another generator in case of power loss.’
    • ‘The polygraph, where you're - as you're aware, you have to be wired up to and it measures blood pressure, and heart rate and pulse and so on and so forth.’
    1. 1.1 Connect (someone or something) to a piece of electronic equipment.
      ‘a microphone wired to a loudspeaker’
      • ‘If you start wiring your computer equipment up to your video equipment its not long before everything disappears under a mountain of leads and power cables.’
      • ‘They were wired to remote recorders located in separate rooms.’
      • ‘There's also a USB 2.0 port to enable the unit to be wired up to a PC, to which it appears as a generic USB Mass Storage device.’
      • ‘The patient sat with both feet and arms in saline baths and was wired up to the machine.’
      • ‘The flash trigger is wired to the shutter mechanism.’
      • ‘It is, essentially, an old phone handset wired up to a standard handphone concealed in his pocket.’
      • ‘There's no point buying several grands' worth of audiophile equipment only to wire it up to cheap speakers.’
      • ‘If wiring the wine cellar for an Internet connection seems like overkill, consider the possibilities for the pampered homeowner.’
      • ‘Andros is a quiet backwater of the Bahamas which sits on the precipitous edge of the Tongue of the Ocean - a vast chasm of water which is wired up with sensors and monitors to allow trials to be recorded and analysed in detail.’
      • ‘Thirty years ago, in the midst of a double-barrelled open-heart surgery, I suffered a complete heart block and was wired up to an external pacemaker.’
      • ‘Electronic components are then wired on to the device to process information that it senses or to drive the movement of its mechanical parts.’
      • ‘Those taking part in this show will be wired up to a small microphone, including the directors, so that everything will be heard during the filming.’
      • ‘Only after a search revealed watches wired to a circuit board did anyone suspect a bomb.’
      • ‘During the operation, the most technical performed on a child of her age, Beth was wired up to a by-pass machine to keep her damaged heart beating, while the artery was widened to allow more oxygen to reach her heart.’
      • ‘All the houses in Brampton Bierlow, near Rotherham, will be wired up to the net via the latest TV set-top box, as part of a £10m national campaign.’
      • ‘We were told that we would be wired up with a mic and put in front of the camera and hit with a few questions.’
      • ‘Although he has been told he would be unlikely to win a patent for wiring a vintage receiver to a handphone, he thinks he can turn it into a design-driven business.’
      • ‘An alternative solution is a system that has a beeper / LED lights mounted in the C pillar (alongside the rear windscreen) wired up to the sensors.’
  • 2Provide, fasten, or reinforce with wires.

    ‘they wired his jaw’
    • ‘Sharon's injuries required several visits to hospital, and she had to have her jaw wired after a serious infection.’
    • ‘After all, it's hard to do a reading with your jaw wired shut.’
    • ‘Later, lying in the hospital with his jaw wired shut, Uncle Tap complained to Dennis that his nocturnal activities had been curtailed.’
    • ‘Mr Loughlin was taken to hospital, had surgery to have plates put in his face and his jaw wired but discharged himself after three days.’
    • ‘Is it necessary for the jaw to be wired shut afterward?’
  • 3North American informal Send a telegram or cablegram to.

    ‘she wired her friend for advice’
    • ‘As soon as the telegraph lines were back up and running she'd wire the Western Rangers, after all this was what they did for a living.’
    1. 3.1with two objects Send (money) to (someone) by means of a telegram or cablegram.
      ‘he was expecting a friend in Australia to wire him $1,500’
      • ‘Instead he is unable to clear up suspicions that he embezzled funds and wired large sums of money to the US.’
      • ‘They can have the money wired to their bank account, they can open an account with a specified bank, or they can pick up their winnings personally.’
      • ‘These charges range from weapons smuggling to illegally wiring large sums of money into the United States.’
      • ‘Sometimes the money was sent offshore then wired back later.’
      • ‘There seemed no option but to get money wired to me from the UK.’
  • 4Snare (an animal) with wire.

  • 5Croquet
    Obstruct (a ball, shot, or player) by a wicket.


  • by wire

    • By telegraph.

      • ‘We notified Hopkins by wire about the letters and then went back to Baker Street to wait.’
      • ‘For many decades into the late 20th Century, the railway relied on a daily time signal from the Dominion Observatory, sent by wire all across Canada.’
      • ‘In the near future, the 1932 edition predicted, ‘we shall receive pictures by wire, as is already being done by one or two newspapers’.’
  • down to the wire

    • informal Used to denote a situation whose outcome is not decided until the very last minute.

      ‘it was probable that the test of nerves would go down to the wire’
      • ‘But it will go down to the wire, and I think it'll be a very exciting month that we've got ahead of us.’
      • ‘It could go down to the wire, but the Swedes could just hold their nerve best either in extra-time or penalties.’
      • ‘Then again there's another 10 months to go so it's hardly down to the wire!’
      • ‘It's getting down to the wire at the World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong.’
      • ‘Many games especially those with playoff implications will go right down to the wire and be decided by a handful of points.’
      • ‘The game went down to the wire, each team trading baskets until we were tied at 80.’
      • ‘Malls, merriment and mayhem - for Brittany, Christmas shopping was down to the wire.’
      • ‘Roughly half the population will find that a sufficient reason to vote for him, and the election will go down to the wire.’
      • ‘For the first time in years we had a game that went down to the wire and was actually exciting.’
      • ‘I have a feeling that if they'd been given half an eternity to sort it out, these two would have been arguing right down to the wire.’
  • under the wire

    • informal At the last possible opportunity; just in time.

      • ‘Then there are those who come softly, slipping so silently under the wire that, if you don't look hard enough, can easily be mistaken for the status quo.’
      • ‘Find out how new procedures might squeeze in under the wire in our ‘Brainstorm’ segment.’
      • ‘As she galloped under the wire, the seven-year-old daughter of Desert King eclipsed the Australian earnings record held by three-time Horse of the Year Sunline.’
      • ‘I'm getting in just under the wire, which pleases me, as I generally leave things of this ilk till it is far too late for me to remedy the situation.’
      • ‘And the art was good enough that no-one's grumbling about how late it was, even though it really came in just under the wire, and I'm madly rewriting to make it work.’
      • ‘Could 2006 be the year when I stop skidding under the wire at the last minute and begin a systematic plan of action, ticking off life's events with time to spare, instead?’
      • ‘I know that you hate how they get their payments in just under the wire.’
      • ‘He called the place and just barely made it under the wire for the deadline for an interview.’
      • ‘‘I just got in under the wire, age-wise,’ she says.’
      • ‘Deadline's tomorrow, and I won't be slipping in under the wire.’
      just in time, not a moment too soon, almost too late, at the critical moment
      View synonyms


Old English wīr; of Germanic origin, probably from the base of Latin viere ‘plait, weave’.