There are 2 main definitions of wind in English:

Share this entry

wind 1

Pronunciation: /wɪnd/


1The perceptible natural movement of the air, especially in the form of a current of air blowing from a particular direction: the wind howled about the building an easterly wind [mass noun]: gusts of wind
More example sentences
  • Strong winds blowing in the direction of the arrow keep air confined in the vortex.
  • Strong winds blow a sandstorm through the camp when suddenly the sound of large artillery rounds is heard about 300 meters away.
  • It is believed that they have picked up metals blown off the bombing range by the strong easterly winds that regularly blow across the island.
air current, current of air;
gale, hurricane;
informal blow
literary zephyr
1.1Used with reference to an impending situation: he had seen which way the wind was blowing
More example sentences
  • There's trouble in the wind.
  • The vibes coming out of the company suggest that radical change is not in the wind.
  • Even media moguls like him are beginning to feel the chill wind of recession.
on the way, coming, about to happen, in the offing, in the air, close at hand, on the horizon, approaching, imminent, impending, looming, brewing, afoot;
likely, probable
informal on the cards
1.2The rush of air caused by a fast-moving body.
Example sentences
  • It lands so quietly, you can only hear the rush of the wind in the top of the trees.
1.3A scent carried by the wind, indicating the presence or proximity of an animal or person.
2 [mass noun] Breath as needed in physical exertion, speech, etc., or the power of breathing without difficulty in such situations: he waited while Jez got his wind back she hit the floor with a thud that knocked the wind out of her
More example sentences
  • Jackson repeated the chorus twice more before they all put down their instruments and left me with my wind knocked out.
  • The wind was knocked out of her for the second time in five minutes.
  • The wind was knocked out of her, and she lay gasping for breath.
informal puff
3 [mass noun] British Air swallowed while eating or gas generated in the stomach and intestines by digestion.
Example sentences
  • The fruit, its oils and the kernel were traditionally used to treat severe acid stomach, excess wind, fatigue after menstruation and the common cold.
  • People with a predominance of phlegm are generally healthy, whereas those with predominance of bile or wind are always of indifferent health.
  • These foods encourage the production of wind, and may aggravate colic.
3.1Empty, pompous, or boastful talk; meaningless rhetoric.
Example sentences
  • So, in other words, another international confluence of hot wind and gassy rhetoric thus comes to pass.
  • It was, of course, all empty wind and unfounded wailing, but it still had an impact.
  • She is just full of wind and hot air.
boastful talk, bombast, bluster, fanfaronade
Scottish & Northern English informal havers
Irish informal codology
North American informal garbage, flapdoodle, blathers, wack, bushwa
informal, dated bunkum, tommyrot
vulgar slang shit, crap, bullshit, bollocks, balls
Australian/New Zealand vulgar slang bulldust
4 (also winds) [treated as singular or plural] Wind instruments, or specifically woodwind instruments, forming a band or a section of an orchestra: these passages are most suitable for wind alone [as modifier]: wind players
More example sentences
  • A platform is rigged toward the back of the stage rising over the winds and brass sections for the vocalists.
  • However, despite a balance that favors the orchestral winds, the sound is not bad at all.
  • A jug band is essentially a string band with a wind section - harmonica, kazoos, and the jug, of course.


[with object]
1Cause (someone) to have difficulty breathing because of exertion or a blow to the stomach: the fall nearly winded him
More example sentences
  • She dodged his extremely slow blows and sank her fist into his stomach, winding him.
  • And then Sean punched him in the stomach, winding him completely.
  • Chris quickly kicked me hard in the stomach, winding me badly.
out of breath, breathless, gasping for breath, panting, puffing, huffing and puffing, puffing and blowing
informal puffed out, out of puff
2British Make (a baby) bring up wind after feeding by patting its back: Paddy’s wife handed him their six-month-old daughter to be winded
More example sentences
  • Wendy had to show her how to feed, wind and bath the baby and left him alone with her only if she went shopping.
3Detect the presence of (a person or animal) by scent: the birds could not have seen us or winded us
4wʌɪnd (past and past participle winded or wound /waʊnd/) literary Sound (a bugle or call) by blowing: but scarce again his horn he wound



before the wind

Sailing With the wind blowing from astern: a white-hulled yacht ran before the wind
More example sentences
  • The wind blew from the north and the ship ran swiftly before the wind.
  • Wind shrieked through the rigging as the mast groaned under the strain of its huge triangular sail that drove the vessel before the wind, its rigging taught as harp strings.
  • Several days out, however, a storm arose and the vessel was driven before the wind in a constant southerly direction, headed toward the South Pole.

get wind of

informal Begin to suspect that (something) is happening; hear a rumour of: Mortimer got wind of a plot being hatched
Referring originally to the scent of game in hunting
More example sentences
  • We can't say anything yet, otherwise the suspects will get wind of what we're doing.
  • The only fall-out of this episode was that the management, also having got wind of the rumour, quickly embedded the canvas in an ugly plastic case.
  • Jane was the best person to confide in but I knew once she got wind of what happened on New Year's Eve she'd be scheming again.
hear about/of, learn of, find out about, become aware of, be made aware of, be told about, be informed of, hear tell of, have brought to one's notice
informal hear something on the grapevine

it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good

proverb Few things are so bad that no one profits from them.
Example sentences
  • Who says it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good?
  • And yet, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
  • Maybe we'll just wait for the catastrophe and anyway, it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

which way the wind is blowing

How the current situation is likely to develop: those politicians know which way the wind is blowing amongst their voters
More example sentences
  • All three parties try to gauge which way the wind is blowing.
  • Unions know which way the wind is blowing, and while they remain opposed to a break-up, they realise that structural change is on the way.
  • During this dark time for video games, only one company seems to have noticed which way the wind is blowing.

like the wind

Very quickly: she ran like the wind back to the house
More example sentences
  • Jo had the talent, and could run like the wind.
  • Just over 40 years ago, at a students' sports meet on a lovely summer day, he ran like the wind, and shone like a star.
  • Mind you, I'm aiming to run like the wind to get to that finishing post first.

off the wind

Sailing With the wind on the quarter.
Example sentences
  • Her performance off the wind is very good, and the full keel and centerboard make the boat easy to balance and comfortable to sail on beam and broad reaches.
  • We sail with the main sail and a jib sail, about 135 degrees off the wind.
  • I'll describe the touch-and-go struggle to keep the boat pointed just enough off the wind to maintain headway, and the jackhammer pounding of a madly luffing mainsail trying to spill a 75-knot gale.

on a wind

Sailing Against a wind on either bow.

put (or have) the wind up

British informal Alarm or frighten (or be alarmed or frightened): Frank was trying to put the wind up him so that he would be too agitated to think clearly
More example sentences
  • Spending ten minutes putting the wind up pregnant women about epidurals doesn't help things, especially when she admitted that 50% of women at the hospital end up having one.
  • The section of the speech on crime should have put the wind up anyone with even the smallest affection for civil liberties, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
  • But his chances of election have put the wind up the US Congress.
scare, frighten, make afraid, make nervous, throw into a panic, panic, alarm, unnerve
informal give someone the heebie-jeebies
North American informal spook

sail close to (or near) the wind

1 Sailing Sail as nearly against the wind as is consistent with using its force.
2 informal Verge on indecency, dishonesty, or disaster.
Example sentences
  • People were invited and encouraged to sail close to the winds of slander as the show and the presenter sought out audience share.
  • Some of the singing was a little weak and difficult to hear in parts and there were perhaps a few too many gags, one in particular sailing a little close to the wind.

take the wind out of someone's sails

Frustrate someone by unexpectedly anticipating an action or remark.
Example sentences
  • This tiny bit of information took the wind out of my sails.
  • I heard something today which really took the wind out of my sails.
  • He knew, too, that the move would take the wind out of the opposition's sails.

to the wind (s) (or the four winds)

In all directions: my little flock scatters to the four winds
More example sentences
  • When they have finished their final reports on their internships, the four women are planning to scatter to the four winds.
  • All our children are being split up and scattered to the four winds.
  • I slammed on the brakes and this group of youths, which included girls, just scattered to the four winds.
11.1So as to be abandoned or neglected: I threw my friends' advice to the winds
From ‘And fear of death deliver to the winds’ (Milton's Paradise Lost)
More example sentences
  • Yet when the temperatures go through the roof at home we tend to throw caution to the wind and abandon ourselves to the damaging rays.
  • Here's a flick that throws all caution to the wind and winds up being truly a unique moviegoing experience.
  • One day many years ago, some friends of mine and I threw caution to the wind and attended a secret, forbidden event.

wind of change

An influence or tendency that cannot be resisted: the winds of change are blowing through agriculture
Popularized by Harold Macmillan's use of the phrase in a 1960 speech
More example sentences
  • However, thanks to the winds of change that swept Eastern Europe and Africa in the early 1990s, democracies are emerging, giving hope to a continent that has suffered for so long.
  • The Soviet Union had imploded, the Berlin Wall had come tumbling down, and Africans were not indifferent to these winds of change.
  • Then came the nineties; the doors of the economy were thrown open to winds of change from the global scene.



Pronunciation: /ˈwɪndləs/
Example sentences
  • The crew experienced all that Bass Strait could offer, from a calm windless night to a south-westerly gale, but with the team working well together, all events became just part of the sailing experience.
  • It's an album that is as beautiful, harmonious and calm as a blue sky on a windless day.
  • Wind power cannot entirely replace fossil-fueled plants because some generating capacity must be maintained on standby for windless periods.


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wind and German Wind, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin ventus.

  • A word from an Indo-European root that also gave us Latin ventus, the source of vent (Late Middle English) and ventilate (Late Middle English). Winnow, windwian in Old English, is to use the wind to separate grain and chaff. To get wind of something comes from the idea of hunted animal picking up the scent of a hunter. The phrase wind of change was used by Harold Macmillan, British prime minister 1957–63, during a speech he made in Cape Town in 1960: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and, whether we like it or not, this growth of [African] national consciousness is a political fact.’ See also ill. For the differently pronounced verb see wand

Words that rhyme with wind

downwind, Lind, prescind, rescind, Sind, upwind

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wind

Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of wind in English:

Share this entry

wind 2

Pronunciation: /wʌɪnd/

verb (past and past participle wound /waʊnd/)

1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Move in or take a twisting or spiral course: the path wound among olive trees
More example sentences
  • They then approach along a path that winds among lush landscaping, keeping the porch's clean, strong lines always in sight.
  • The garden itself was just a path that wound among clusters of aspen trees along the flank of a grassy foothill.
  • The path was endless, constantly winding downward in a spiral.
twist and turn, twist, turn, bend, curve, loop, zigzag, weave, snake, meander, ramble;
2 [with object and adverbial] Pass (something) round a thing or person so as to encircle or enfold: he wound a towel around his midriff
More example sentences
  • A blue mohair scarf was wound tightly round her neck, almost covering her face, and she pulled it away to speak.
  • Cattle, we found, like the grass long, so that they can wind it round their tongues.
  • Mr Wells had hooked a large flatfish which he thought was a skate, but it turned out to be a stingray and it wound its tail round his arm and stuck a four-inch spike into him.
wrap, furl, fold;
entwine, lace, wreathe
2.1Repeatedly twist or coil (a length of something) round itself or a core: Anne wound the wool into a ball
More example sentences
  • These devices are usually quite large; assembled from coils wound onto magnetic cores.
  • I even wound a 10-foot length of parachute cord around my hiking staff.
  • I also wound the two long power cables around the length of the printer cable and secured them with a fair number cable ties.
coil, roll, twist, twine;
2.2 [no object, with adverbial] Be twisted or coiled: large vines wound round every tree
More example sentences
  • Pale vines wound over what looked to be emerald-green alabaster.
  • The gradual twist of the body may be likened to certain movements in nature, such as that of a vine winding around a tree.
  • They lived in open-air houses that wound around trees.
2.3Wrap or surround (a core) with a coiled length of something: devices wound with copper wire
3 [with object] Make (a clock or other device, typically one operated by clockwork) operate by turning a key or handle: he wound up the clock every Saturday night she was winding the gramophone
More example sentences
  • It turned easily, making clicking noises like an alarm clock being wound.
  • The original watchmaker himself used to wind the clock every Friday after Juma prayers at 2 p.m.
  • Still, as I wound the clock, I felt that it was more than mere decoration.
3.1Turn (a key or handle) repeatedly round and round: I wound the handle as fast as I could
More example sentences
  • If you wind the key enough, he'll go.
  • You make a sandwich of the printing plate and the paper and some sort of pad on top of the paper, put it in the press and wind a handle to screw down the top plate of the press.
  • This photo shows the flip out handle, which once wound for thirty seconds, produces full room sound for thirty minutes.
4 [with object and adverbial of direction] Cause (an audio or video tape or a film) to move back or forwards to a desired point: I forgot how to wind the film on
More example sentences
  • The near the end there's a sound like a tape being wound back and we get the alternate version - same aquatic feel, but light and airy as well.
  • Get another and then close the shutter, which winds on the film to the next position.
  • I may want to wind back the cassette to replay a section.
5 [with object and adverbial of direction] Hoist or draw (something) with a windlass, winch, or similar device.
Example sentences
  • This is the compartment located in the fo'c's'le below and behind the anchor winch, into which the anchor chains are wound.


1A twist or turn in a course.
Example sentences
  • After a few minutes of puzzled winds and twists and turns and curses muttered under my breath, I come upon the bed.
2A single turn made when winding.

Phrasal verbs


wind down

(Of a mechanism, especially one operated by clockwork) gradually lose power.
Example sentences
  • The quality is fine for TV broadcast and animation motors give us more accuracy from one frame to the next, because the shutter speed alters slightly as the spring winds down in the clockwork motor.
  • Turbine generators here wind down, the emergency system to protect the nuclear reactors from overload kicks in, and the propeller shaft stops.
  • The left engine normally wound down and wind-milled, while continuing to power the left side hydraulics.
informal1.1 (Of a person) relax after stress or excitement: I sank into a hot bath in order to wind down
More example sentences
  • Palm Beach is a place to relax, wind down and live elegantly, and if you want more, remember, Miami Beach is just a short gorgeous, scenic drive down the highway.
  • Tired runners and walkers can relax and wind down at the celebration where they can enjoy music, entertainment and light refreshments.
  • So, now that I've taken a cool shower, I intend to relax and wind down.
relax, unwind, calm down, cool down/off, ease up/off, take it easy, rest, put one's feet up
North American informal hang loose, stay loose, chill out, chill, kick back
(also wind something down)1.2 Draw or bring gradually to a close: business began to wind down as people awaited the new regime
More example sentences
  • If a buyer cannot be found, the company will be wound down and closed.
  • Workers at the centre at the Cork Airport Business Park were told that the plant would be wound down over the next three months.
  • The weaker he became, the more urgently he focused on winding the business down.
draw to a close, come to an end, tail off, taper off, diminish, lessen, dwindle, decline;
slacken off, slack off, slow down

wind up

1Arrive or end up in a specified state, situation, or place: she wound up in hospital with pneumonia
More example sentences
  • And, if you don't want to wind up in that situation, you need to pack heat and be prepared to resist at the point of abduction.
  • We all wind up in your situation sooner or later, and I agree - it's tough.
  • Shaking his head in disbelief, he wondered how he'd come to wind up in this situation to begin with.
informal fetch up
2 another way of saying wind something up (sense 2. he wound up by attacking Nonconformists
More example sentences
  • It looks like this job will wind up soon - the company could well fold in the next month or so.

wind someone up

1British informal Tease or irritate someone: she’s only winding me up
More example sentences
  • He teased me and wound me up, without mercy, all day, for my grumpiness.
  • She was winding me up, teasing me, and I knew it but the pain was still too fresh and the anger wasn't far from the surface and it took everything I had to keep quiet.
  • In itself this can be a little irritating if you're trying to wind someone up.
tease, make fun of, chaff;
annoy, vex
informal take the mickey out of, send up, rib, josh, kid, have on, pull someone's leg, rag
North American informal goof on, rag on, put on, pull someone's chain, razz, fun, shuck
Australian/New Zealand informal poke mullock at, poke borak at, sling off at
British vulgar slang take the piss out of
dated make sport of, twit
provoke, goad, work up, make tense
North American informal ride
vulgar slang piss off
2Make tense or angry: he was clearly wound up and frantic about his daughter
More example sentences
  • I was feeling extremely tense and uncomfortable and the whole thing was winding me up more and more and more.
  • His lack of insight winds him up and leads him to write angry and bitter rants like this - it's pretty sad really.
  • I suppose it's fitting that I rant about religion on Easter Sunday, but this wound me up, and then Steve tipped me over the edge.

wind something up

1Arrange the affairs of and dissolve a company: the company has since been wound up
More example sentences
  • If the liquidator receives this amount at sale, then, based on the company's statement of affairs when it was wound up, the company could be left in a break-even situation.
  • As a result, insolvent companies are not wound up but sit idle, usually heavily in debt, until they are struck off the register.
  • Having taken all steps, active or passive, required to terminate the activities of the club, short of passing a formal resolution to wind it up or dissolve it, the general meeting of the club resolved to sell the club's last asset.
close (down), dissolve, liquidate, put into liquidation
2Gradually or finally bring an activity to a conclusion: the experiments had to be wound up because the funding stopped
More example sentences
  • Another chapter or two should wind this up, but I need a transitional chapter.
  • His apparent indifference to the current state of affairs merely supports the view that it is time to wind it up.
  • The Shakers wound up their pre-season schedule with a 1-0 defeat against a full strength Barnsley side in midweek.
conclude, bring to an end/close, end, terminate, finish;
tie up, tie up the loose ends of
informal wrap up
3 informal Increase the tension, intensity, or power of something: he wound up the engine
More example sentences
  • Luckily the road was fairly empty and I slammed up the gearbox winding the car up to an eyewatering 105 mph.
  • Brakes off, cranks churning, I wind it up and let it go.
  • On the highway it winds it up to about forty-five, at which point the engine and drive train are seemingly screaming the distorted symphonics of an ear-splitting concerto.


Old English windan 'go rapidly', 'twine', of Germanic origin; related to wander and wend.

  • A word from an Indo-European root that also gave us Latin ventus, the source of vent (Late Middle English) and ventilate (Late Middle English). Winnow, windwian in Old English, is to use the wind to separate grain and chaff. To get wind of something comes from the idea of hunted animal picking up the scent of a hunter. The phrase wind of change was used by Harold Macmillan, British prime minister 1957–63, during a speech he made in Cape Town in 1960: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and, whether we like it or not, this growth of [African] national consciousness is a political fact.’ See also ill. For the differently pronounced verb see wand

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: wind

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.