Definition of gear in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ɡɪə/


1 (often gears) A toothed wheel that works with others to alter the relation between the speed of a driving mechanism (such as the engine of a vehicle) and the speed of the driven parts (the wheels): a racing bike with ten-speed gears
More 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.
gearwheel, toothed wheel, cog, cogwheel
gear ratio, speed
1.1A particular setting of engaged gears: he was belting 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 [mass noun, usually with modifier] Equipment or apparatus that is used for a particular purpose: camping gear
More 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, hardware, gadgets, gadgetry;
stuff, things;
kit, rig, tackle, outfit;
resources, amenities, supplies;
furniture, furnishings, fittings;
odds and ends, bits and pieces, bits and bobs;
trappings, appurtenances, accoutrements, regalia;
Military  materiel, baggage
informal box of tricks
British informal clobber, gubbins, odds and sods
archaic equipage
2.1 informal Clothing, 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, articles of clothing/dress, attire, garb;
dress, wear, wardrobe;
outfit, costume, turnout;
informal togs, duds, garms, get-up, glad rags
British informal clobber, kit, rig-out
North American informal threads
formal apparel
literary raiment, habiliments, habit
archaic vestments
2.2 informal Personal possessions and clothes: I told her to come back to my place with all her gear
More 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, baggage, chattels, movables, paraphernalia, appurtenances, impedimenta, miscellaneous articles, odds and ends, bits and pieces, bits and bobs, trappings, accessories
informal things, stuff, kit, junk, rubbish, dunnage, traps
British informal clobber, gubbins, odds and sods
2.3British informal Illegal drugs: Murray got him some gear
More example sentences
  • Some of his worst moments include ‘running around the inner city after drug dealers looking for gear, dragging my five kids with me’.
  • The smackheads (heroin users) are using it then coming down on gear (heroin).
  • After that I thought I was cured and went back to using gear.


[with object]
Design or adjust the gears in a machine to give a specified speed or power output: the vehicle’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.



change (or switch or shift) gear

Adopt a different approach to a situation or task: from February 1942, British air strategy changed gear

in (or into) gear

With a gear engaged: he 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
  • All three candidates who will debate tonight on Brockton cable TV got their campaigns in gear last month.
  • Find a degree program to get your education in gear!
  • Current EPA director Lee Thomas has worked hard to get the agency back into gear.

out of gear

With no gear engaged: she took the engine out of gear figurative sometimes his brain seems to slip out of gear
More example sentences
  • So whenever we try talking we're either like two magnets slinking closer, and then pinging away from each other, or like an engine revving out of gear.
  • She makes an appointment to see the doctor, thinking she's pregnant again, and he asks her to sit down and as she does so, she notices that his voice has slipped out of gear.
  • I speed up on that side for five seconds, and then seeing the fish closing up, throw the engine out of gear.

Phrasal verbs


gear down

Change to a lower gear: we geared down to creep through the square
More 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 someone/thing for

Make ready; prepare: 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 something for/to/towards

Adapt something to make it suitable for (someone or something): our trips are geared for clubbers and hen and stag parties they gear workouts to your specific needs
More example sentences
  • The latest updates are geared towards adapting to security threats.
  • School holidays are geared to there being one available parent, and the assumption is that will be the woman.
  • You know, I'm gearing my training towards just becoming better with everyone.

gear up

1Equip or prepare oneself: the region geared 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.
prepare, make preparations, make provisions, get everything ready, make ready, take the necessary steps, do the necessary
get ready, prepare, make preparations, arrange things, make provision, get everything set, take the necessary steps, do the necessary, lay the groundwork, do the spadework, gird up one's loins, kit oneself out, rig oneself out, arm oneself
informal psych oneself up
2Change to a higher gear.
2.1(Of a company) increase its borrowings: the group will be gearing up this year
More example sentences
  • Investment trusts can also gear up, by borrowing money to invest if they so wish.
  • Just as private landlords gear up to increase their returns, so property companies do likewise.
  • But as long as overall demand keeps growing even modestly, chances are high that businesses will become confident enough to gear up again by year end and into 2003.

gear someone/thing up

Adapt or equip someone or something for a purpose: a city not geared up to an outdoor lifestyle


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

Line breaks: gear

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.