Definition of gear in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɡir/


1 (often gears) One of a set of toothed wheels that work together to alter the relation between the speed of a driving mechanism (such as the engine of a vehicle or the crank of a bicycle) and the speed of the driven parts (the wheels).
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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 spacing of the gears allows engine speeds to be reduced and the torque curve to be better exploited.
1.1A particular function or state of adjustment of engaged gears: he was tooling along in fifth gear
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Your ears start to hurt from the pressure in fifth and sixth gears; now I know why people wear helmets with these machines.
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
More example sentences
  • The food, the environs, the ambience are all in top gear for a grand welcome to "Mahabali Chakravarthy."
  • Local girls u13 basketball team were noticably in top gear at the Co. Kildare community games final played at Kilcullen on Wednesday, May 24.
  • With the scores at 10 -, and Town dominant, Odsal stepped up a gear to try and breach the Town defence.
2 informal Equipment that is used for a particular purpose.
Example sentences
  • To make shopping easy, the company arranges its catalog according to clothing, accessories, gear, and gifts.
  • 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.
  • They caught five poachers, equipped with modern rappelling gear, in possession of six bags of bird nests.
equipment, apparatus, paraphernalia, articles, appliances, impedimenta;
tools, utensils, implements, instruments, gadgets;
stuff, things;
kit, rig, tackle, odds and ends, bits and pieces, trappings, appurtenances, accoutrements, regalia
archaic equipage
2.1A person’s personal possessions and clothes.
Example sentences
  • The next day the girl returns and starts bringing in her clothes and other personal gear!
  • It excels in affordable, bright, trendy, big personality clothes and club gear.
  • It was a four-day trip, each man carrying his own rations, sleeping bag, clothing and personal gear.
belongings, possessions, effects, personal effects, property, paraphernalia, odds and ends, bits and pieces, bags, baggage, luggage;
Law  chattels
informal things, stuff
2.2Clothing, especially of a specified kind: designer gear
More example sentences
  • He expanded his clothing line from basketball gear to lifestyle wear.
  • So the crumpled, unshaven look is strictly last season and those who are with it are found in designer gear and sports shoes.
  • As it was, he was also wearing his travelling gear, painfully bright clothing that stood out a mile against his dark skin.
clothes, clothing, garments, outfits, attire, garb;
dress, wear
informal togs, duds, getup, threads
formal apparel
2.3 Nautical A ship’s rigging.


[with object]
1Design or adjust the gears in (a machine) to give a specified speed or power output: it’s geared too high for serious off-road use
More example sentences
  • The transmission is geared for power, economy and smooth transition, and is designed to withstand tough working conditions.
  • This library implementation is geared for speed rather than memory efficiency and is single-threaded which makes it unsuitable for many uses.
  • Ride quality is reasonable; suspension is geared to off-roading rather than sheer comfort.
1.1 (gear something to) Adjust or adapt something to suit a special purpose or need.
Example sentences
  • Just as he is bold in diagnosing the cause of the problem - a private economy geared to producing wealth, not jobs - he is equally daring in his remedies.
  • Honestly, this was an administrative post geared toward our writers, but that isn't fair to our readers and I have been upbraided accordingly.
  • Meanwhile, their sexy ads dominate the pages of trendy, urban magazines geared to the slightly liberal twenty-something set.



change (or switch or shift) gears

Adopt a different approach to a situation or task: we have to be prepared to shift gears when things create problems for the government

in gear

With a gear engaged: the captain revved the engines and put them in gear
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Chris quickly threw the Jeep in gear and drove off.
  • Just put the key in, turn it on, put it in gear and you're off.
2.1Proceeding with energy, determination, or speed: I couldn’t get myself into gear early enough on Saturday morning
More example sentences
  • But I as your President promise to put all my efforts in gear to quickly resolve the issue, and have put the National Guard on alert.
  • Instead we proceed through further memories as he starts to get his day in gear, driving across London to meet his colleague for squash.
  • New Year's resolutions are due to be formulated and if you are reading the paper on Friday, as most of us do, you have only 2 days to get your act in gear to set some goals for next year.

Phrasal verbs


gear down (or up)

Change to a lower (or higher) gear.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • He believed he geared down three gears, which would have put him at about 60-65 k/hr.

gear for

Make ready or prepared: a nation geared for war
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • It amazes me how much supplies in Montreal are geared for the apartment inhabitant.
  • 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.

gear up

Equip or prepare oneself: the region started to gear up for the tourist season
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • Newspapers better be prepared to gear up for 2005 innovations.
  • ‘Manchester, an exciting, go-ahead city, is well geared up for it,’ said the Prime Minister.


Middle English: of Scandinavian origin; compare with Old Norse gervi. Early senses expressed the general meaning 'equipment or apparatus', later 'mechanism': hence sense 1 of the noun (early 19th century).

Words that rhyme with gear

adhere, Agadir, Anglosphere, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hand-rear, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: gear

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