There are 2 main definitions of spoke in English:

Share this entry

spoke 1

Line breaks: spoke
Pronunciation: /spəʊk/


1Each of the bars or wire rods connecting the centre of a wheel to its outer edge.
Example sentences
  • A large, open circle at the front connects with an outside wheel by means of spokes, some straight and some angled, which have been painted yellow, orange, green or black.
  • China may only have blunt weapons with which to handle overheating - the economic equivalent of pushing a walking stick into the spokes of a bicycle's front wheel.
  • It was in this act of destruction, where the spokes of the bicycle splintered off, that I came to know the material.
1.1Each of a set of radial handles projecting from a ship’s wheel.
1.2Each of the metal rods in an umbrella to which the material is attached.
Example sentences
  • The umbrella, with its protective cloth stripped off and the spokes spread uselessly in the air, is thus a poignant and recurrent emblem of the dangers that lie in the rift between words and objects.


Old English spāca, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch speek, German Speiche, from the base of spike1.

  • In the sense ‘a bar or rod connecting the centre of a wheel to its edge’, spoke is an Old English word, related to spike. It appears in the slightly puzzling expression put a spoke in someone's wheel. This means ‘to prevent someone from carrying out a plan’, but since wheels are supposed to have spokes it does not appear to make a lot of sense. It is probably a mistranslation of Dutch een spaak in 'twiel steeken, ‘to put a bar in the wheel’—the image that should come to mind is of a bar being stuck into a wheel to stop it turning properly.


put a spoke in someone's wheel

British Prevent someone from carrying out a plan.
Example sentences
  • His position as deputy manager of a State tobacco company might have put a spoke in the judge's wheel, thwarting his plan to proceed in accordance with the law.
  • And here's a comment from a LibDem voter: ‘I always thought he was a good MP but you have put a spoke in his wheel.’
  • He said: ‘There has been a bit of needle between the tracks in the past and I would love to put a spoke in their wheel.’



[in combination]: a wire-spoked wheel

Words that rhyme with spoke

awoke, bespoke, bloke, broke, choke, cloak, Coke, convoke, croak, evoke, folk, invoke, joke, Koch, moke, oak, okey-doke, poke, provoke, revoke, roque, smoke, soak, soke, stoke, stony-broke (US stone-broke), stroke, toke, toque, woke, yoke, yolk

Definition of spoke in:

Share this entry


There are 2 main definitions of spoke in English:

Share this entry

spoke 2 Line breaks: spoke
Pronunciation: /spəʊk/
Past of speak.

Definition of spoke in:

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.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day fortissimo
Pronunciation: fɔːˈtɪsɪməʊ
(especially as a direction) very loud or loudly