Definition of wire in English:

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Pronunciation: /wʌɪə/


1 [mass 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
More example sentences
  • Having very thin wire needles pushed into your skin and twiddled is a very bizarre experience.
  • Others were woven with thin copper wire, creating a seductively shiny and semisolid surface.
  • The earliest chronographs used vacuum tubes for timing and a thin copper wire to start and stop.
1.1 [count noun] A length or quantity of wire used to carry an electric current, for fencing, etc.
Example sentences
  • Iron creates the magnetic field and copper wires carry away the current generated.
  • Do wires degenerate when electric current is passed through them?
  • Objecting to unsightly overhead wires to provide electric current, most British systems did not adopt electric traction until after 1900.
cable, lead, flex
1.2 (usually the wire) North American Horse Racing A wire stretched across and above the start and finish of a racecourse.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
More example sentences
  • And now she was here, doing what he'd asked while he listened on a wire.
3 informal, chiefly North American A telegram or cablegram.
Example sentences
  • 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.


[with object]
1Install electric circuits or wires in: wiring a plug electricians wired up searchlights
More example sentences
  • The meeting discussed heating arrangements for the winter months and hope to get the prefab wired up for electricity during the next few weeks.
  • 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.
1.1Connect (someone or something) to a piece of electronic equipment: a microphone wired to a loudspeaker
More example sentences
  • There's no point buying several grands' worth of audiophile equipment only to wire it up to cheap speakers.
  • Electronic components are then wired on to the device to process information that it senses or to drive the movement of its mechanical parts.
  • 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.
2Provide, fasten, or reinforce with wires: they wired his jaw
More example sentences
  • Is it necessary for the jaw to be wired shut afterward?
  • Later, lying in the hospital with his jaw wired shut, Uncle Tap complained to Dennis that his nocturnal activities had been curtailed.
  • After all, it's hard to do a reading with your jaw wired shut.
3 informal, chiefly North American Send a telegram or cablegram to: she wired her friend for advice
More example sentences
  • 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.
3.1 [with 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
More example sentences
  • Instead he is unable to clear up suspicions that he embezzled funds and wired large sums of money to the US.
  • These charges range from weapons smuggling to illegally wiring large sums of money into the United States.
  • 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.
4Snare (an animal) with wire.
5 Croquet Obstruct (a ball, shot, or player) by a hoop.



by wire

By telegraph: he conducted business by wire
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • We notified Hopkins by wire about the letters and then went back to Baker Street to wait.

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
More example sentences
  • Many games especially those with playoff implications will go right down to the wire and be decided by a handful of points.
  • It could go down to the wire, but the Swedes could just hold their nerve best either in extra-time or penalties.
  • The game went down to the wire, each team trading baskets until we were tied at 80.

get one's wires crossed

see cross.

the straight wire

Australian informal The honest truth: you’ll remember what I say and know it’s the straight wire
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • If he came any of his law-de-dah squatter funny business on me I'd give him the straight wire, I promise you.

under the wire

North American informal At the last possible opportunity; just in time: the team got into the playoffs just under the wire
More example sentences
  • Deadline's tomorrow, and I won't be slipping in under the wire.
  • He called the place and just barely made it under the wire for the deadline for an interview.
  • I know that you hate how they get their payments in just under the wire.


North American informal From start to finish: he may not have what it takes to lead from wire-to-wire
More example sentences
  • Get it while it's hot because it'll be awhile before the ol’ ball coach competes wire-to-wire for the SEC championship.
  • Lost in the Fog was a tired colt on Sunday morning but otherwise in good spirits a day after his wire-to-wire victory in the King's Bishop Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
  • If she starts out fast, she could go wire-to-wire.



Example sentences
  • Our electrical wirers are also capable of carrying out electrical conversion work.
  • An Opportunity has arisen in the Coventry area for a skilled wirer that involves working with injection mould machines.
  • After one or two years of satisfactory performance, frame wirers may be selected to train for a more skilled job such as that of test desk technician or central office repairer.


Old English wīr; of Germanic origin, probably from the base of Latin viere 'plait, weave'.

  • The base of wire probably meant ‘to plait or weave’. In the 1850s people started taking or sending a message by wire, or by telegraph. If a situation goes down to the wire its outcome is not decided until the very last minute. This expression originated in the USA in the late 19th century and comes from the world of horse racing. Racecourses there have a wire stretched across and above the finishing line: a race that goes down to the wire is one in which the horses are neck and neck right to the finish.

Words that rhyme with wire

acquire, admire, afire, applier, aspire, attire, ayah, backfire, barbwire, bemire, briar, buyer, byre, choir, conspire, crier, cryer, defier, denier, desire, dire, drier, dryer, dyer, enquire, entire, esquire, expire, fire, flyer, friar, fryer, Gaia, gyre, hellfire, hire, hiya, ire, Isaiah, jambalaya, Jeremiah, Josiah, Kintyre, latria, liar, lyre, Maia, Maya, Mayer, messiah, mire, misfire, Nehemiah, Obadiah, papaya, pariah, peripeteia, perspire, playa, Praia, prior, pyre, quire, replier, scryer, shire, shyer, sire, skyer, Sophia, spire, squire, supplier, Surabaya, suspire, tier, tire, transpire, trier, tumble-dryer, tyre, Uriah, via, Zechariah, Zedekiah, Zephaniah

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wire

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