Definition of feather in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfɛðə/


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: the waxwing has very bright feathers and a prominent crest Sally-Anne, dolled up in ostrich feathers and pearls
More example sentences
  • When the color of the landscape changes, females shed their white plumage as brown replacement feathers grow in.
  • But the creature's most unusual feature was a set of long, asymmetric feathers with hooked barbs on its hind limbs and forelimbs.
  • Primary wing feathers create the flight surface, thus allowing birds to fly.
plume, quill;
(feathers) plumage, feathering, down, eider (down), hackles, crest, tuft, topknot, pinion
technical covert, remex, rectrix, plumule, semi-plume
archaic flag
1.1 (feathers) A fringe of long hair on the legs of a dog, horse, or other animal.
Example sentences
  • Use a pin brush or slicker brush in the feathers to separate the hair and to remove tangles.


1 [with object] Rotate the blades of (a propeller) about their own axes in such a way as to lessen the air or water resistance.
Example sentences
  • A fire erupted in the starboard engine and the pilot was unable to feather the propeller.
  • He shut down the engine, feathered the propeller and entered a power-off emergency descent.
  • Ken shut down the engine and feathered the propeller while Bob returned to his turret.
1.1Vary the angle of attack of (rotor blades).
Example sentences
  • 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.
1.2 Rowing Turn (an oar) so that it passes through the air edgeways: he turned, feathering one oar slowly
More example sentences
  • 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.
2 [no object, with adverbial] Float or move like a feather: the green fronds feathered against a blue sky
More example sentences
  • Twigs and leaves, from overgrown bushes - half hung in the road - bashed and feathered against his clothes.
3 [with object] Blend or smooth delicately: feather the paint in, in a series of light strokes
More example sentences
  • If organized is quite the word - but the point is, you could put ink on and it was much more inclined to stay put, so we could start tinkering with feathering and other decorative techniques.
  • He often employed a personal technique: feathering his surfaces on the top layer with small white brushstrokes, which delicately muffle the colors underneath.
4 [no object] (Of ink, lipstick, etc.) separate into tiny lines after application: (as noun feathering) a long-lasting formula that resists feathering and protects the lips
More example sentences
  • Packaged in a sleek gold tube, it keeps lips smooth, fills in any lines around lips and prevents lipstick from feathering around your mouth (even on smokers).
5 short for feather cut.



a feather in one's cap

An achievement to be proud of: beating him would be a feather in my cap
More example sentences
  • ‘That's a feather in your cap,’ someone told me today.
  • ‘It's a feather in your cap when you are asked to be captain, especially by someone like Paul Broadbent,’ he said.
  • It's a bit of a feather in their cap if they can keep him quiet because he's run riot this season.

feather one's (own) nest

Make money for oneself in an opportunistic or selfish way: he may have decided to feather his nest by blackmail
More example sentences
  • 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).
  • A whole bunch of so called scientists, lawyers and, most important, politicians, have taken it over in the meantime 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.

(as) light as a feather

Extremely light and insubstantial.
Example sentences
  • After a full massage, including my stomach, I felt absolutely wonderful - light as a feather.
  • The thing does a good job, and it's as light as a feather.
  • Yesterday I had trouble lifting a bucket of sand that two weekends ago was as light as a feather.



Pronunciation: /ˈfɛðərləs/
Example sentences
  • Using artificial insemination, they propagated offspring that would produce both feathered and featherless broilers that would grow to comparable size in the same length of time.
  • On the other hand, featherless chickens tend to be more susceptible to parasites and other problems and, in previous attempts to create featherless chickens, the males have been unable to mate.
  • It was featherless, but stood a foot tall on spindly jointed legs; its face was avian but - like the body - fat and dotted with patchy, moulting orange fur.


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'.

Words that rhyme with feather

altogether, heather, leather, nether, tether, together, weather, wether, whether

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fea¦ther

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