Definition of wire in English:



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

    ‘a coil of copper wire’
    as modifier ‘a wire coat hanger’
    • ‘Most grain elevators have thin wire cables to check the temperature of the grain inside.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Many acupuncturists will use needles so fine they are like very thin wire, and are usually completely painless when inserted.’
    • ‘The earliest chronographs used vacuum tubes for timing and a thin copper wire to start and stop.’
    • ‘Gates invited local cattlemen to test their wildest longhorns against his new fencing material, crafted of nothing more than thin wire and metal barbs.’
    • ‘Glass beads on Maasai necklaces are strung onto thin commercial wire.’
    • ‘They claimed that vast quantities of gold and silver thread and wire for making lace were being regularly imported into Ireland.’
    • ‘Having very thin wire needles pushed into your skin and twiddled is a very bizarre experience.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Others were woven with thin copper wire, creating a seductively shiny and semisolid surface.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Do not use thin wire, metal or plastic strapping, or other material that could seriously cut you if you fell against it hard enough.’
    • ‘The finished aluminum coil may weigh only half as much as the equivalent copper wire coil.’
    • ‘The twist ties were made of thin metal wire with a paper covering, and they rusted through after a few weeks.’
    • ‘He vaulted the thin wire fence and ran along the railway line.’
    • ‘He had an unruly mess of light brown hair and dark chocolate brown eyes hidden behind thin golden wire glasses.’
    • ‘Joining the disks are thin wire strands, painted yellow and orange, that zigzag across the front.’
    • ‘Wrap flexible but sturdy wire around one stake, up to the top of the post and staple it there.’
    1. 1.1count noun A length or quantity of wire used to carry an electric current, for fencing, etc.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘To demonstrate the first of these behaviors, hold a magnetic compass near a wire conducting a DC current.’
      • ‘Abnormal cells are cut out using a heated wire with an electrical current running through it.’
      • ‘The very small particles stream through wires and circuits creating currents of electricity.’
      • ‘Objecting to unsightly overhead wires to provide electric current, most British systems did not adopt electric traction until after 1900.’
      • ‘Replacement of all old electric wires, poles and transformers to ensure a proper distribution of power to consumers had been ordered.’
      • ‘Do wires degenerate when electric current is passed through them?’
      • ‘In the simplest case, the wires carrying the electrical signals are used to form an electromagnet which attracts and releases a metal diaphragm.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Accordingly the current remained in the wires throughout the circuit so long as the main switch was on.’
      • ‘Iron creates the magnetic field and copper wires carry away the current generated.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The barbs are at the end of electrical wires carrying 50,000 volts.’
      • ‘Also, a wire that has a current flowing through it, may heat-up and cause the temperature to rise sufficiently to ignite materials.’
      • ‘Think of the analogy of an electric wire carrying more electricity than its diameter can safely carry.’
      • ‘As the magnetic storm raged through the night, huge geomagnetically induced currents surged through the wires and cables.’
      • ‘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.’
      cable, lead, flex
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2usually the wireNorth American Horse racing A wire stretched across and above the start and finish of a racecourse.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She finished five lengths behind Azeri at the wire.’
  • 2An electronic listening device that can be concealed on a person.

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

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


  • 1Install electric circuits or wires in.

    ‘wiring a plug’
    ‘electricians wired up searchlights’
    • ‘All the other rooms were lit by candles and kerosene, seeing as their building had not been wired with electricity yet.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Outside the house there is a detached garage with electric shutter and electricity wiring, while a cobbled driveway offers parking for six cars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘However, far from being asleep, Seamus felt fully awake and annoyed at being wired up like an appliance.’
    • ‘We wired a small electric light in parallel with the circuit to the engine heater.’
    • ‘In a second visit they found cables and a junction box in the loft wired up to bypass the meter.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Electricians then wired the fiber to the company's office suite.’
    • ‘A pathway leads to a workshop/utility room which is wired for electricity and plumbed for a washing machine.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I installed fifteen LEDs with resistors - they are all wired up on an extra USB port in the keyboard.’
    • ‘A dedicated entertainment room has been wired up for surround-sound speakers and other home-cinema goodies.’
    1. 1.1 Connect (someone or something) to a piece of electronic equipment.
      ‘a microphone wired to a loudspeaker’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Electronic components are then wired on to the device to process information that it senses or to drive the movement of its mechanical parts.’
      • ‘Only after a search revealed watches wired to a circuit board did anyone suspect a bomb.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If wiring the wine cellar for an Internet connection seems like overkill, consider the possibilities for the pampered homeowner.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They were wired to remote recorders located in separate rooms.’
      • ‘It is, essentially, an old phone handset wired up to a standard handphone concealed in his pocket.’
      • ‘The patient sat with both feet and arms in saline baths and was wired up to the machine.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There's no point buying several grands' worth of audiophile equipment only to wire it up to cheap speakers.’
      • ‘The flash trigger is wired to the shutter mechanism.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2Provide, fasten, or reinforce with wires.

    ‘they wired his jaw’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sharon's injuries required several visits to hospital, and she had to have her jaw wired after a serious infection.’
  • 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’
      • ‘Sometimes the money was sent offshore then wired back later.’
      • ‘These charges range from weapons smuggling to illegally wiring large sums of money into the United States.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 hoop.


  • by wire

    • By telegraph.

      ‘he conducted business by wire’
      • ‘We notified Hopkins by wire about the letters and then went back to Baker Street to wait.’
      • ‘In the near future, the 1932 edition predicted, ‘we shall receive pictures by wire, as is already being done by one or two newspapers’.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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’
      • ‘The game went down to the wire, each team trading baskets until we were tied at 80.’
      • ‘It's getting down to the wire at the World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong.’
      • ‘Roughly half the population will find that a sufficient reason to vote for him, and the election will 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.’
      • ‘Many games especially those with playoff implications will go right down to the wire and be decided by a handful of points.’
      • ‘Then again there's another 10 months to go so it's hardly down to the wire!’
      • ‘Malls, merriment and mayhem - for Brittany, Christmas shopping was down to the wire.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For the first time in years we had a game that went down to the wire and was actually exciting.’
      • ‘It could go down to the wire, but the Swedes could just hold their nerve best either in extra-time or penalties.’
  • the straight wire

    • informal The honest truth.

      ‘you'll remember what I say and know it's the straight wire’
      • ‘If he came any of his law-de-dah squatter funny business on me I'd give him the straight wire, I promise you.’
      • ‘I'd even make it for the Olympics if I had the least urging, and that's the straight wire, honest to dinkum!’
      • ‘I won't wag me chin no more just yet; but this is the straight wire.’
  • under the wire

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

      ‘the team got into the playoffs just under the wire’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘I just got in under the wire, age-wise,’ she says.’
      • ‘I know that you hate how they get their payments in just under the wire.’
      • ‘Deadline's tomorrow, and I won't be slipping in under the wire.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He called the place and just barely made it under the wire for the deadline for an interview.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’.