a. Metal that has been drawn out into a strand or rod, used chiefly for structural support, as in concrete, and for conducting electricity, when it is usually insulated with a rubber or plastic cladding: bought some wire at the hardware store.
b. A strand or rod of such material, or a cable made of such strands twisted together.
c. Fencing made of wire, especially barbed wire.
d. wires The system of strings employed in manipulating puppets in a show.
2. Slang A hidden microphone, as on a person's body or in a building.
a. A telephone or telegraph connection: Who is on the wire?
b. A telegraph service: sent the message by wire.
c. A telegram or cablegram: "Mac got a wire from Milly that Uncle Tim was dead" (John Dos Passos).
d. A wire service: The news came over the wire.
4. A pin in the print head of a computer printer.
5. The screen on which sheets of paper are formed in a papermaking machine.
6. Sports The finish line of a racetrack.
7. Slang A pickpocket.
v. wired, wir·ing, wires
a. To equip with a system of electrical wires: wire a house.
b. To attach or connect with electrical wire or cable: Is the printer wired to the computer?
c. To attach or fasten with wire: Surgeons wired his shoulder together.
2. Slang To install electronic eavesdropping equipment in (a room, for example).
a. To send by telegraph: wired her congratulations.
b. To send a telegram to (someone).
4. Computers To implement (a capability) through logic circuitry that is permanently connected within a computer or calculator and therefore not subject to change by programming.
5. To determine genetically; hardwire: "It is plausible that the basic organization of grammar is wired into the child's brain" (Steven Pinker).
To send a telegram.
down to the wire Informal
To the very end, as in a race or contest.
under the wire
1. Sports At the finish line.
2. Informal Just in the nick of time; at the last moment.
[Middle English, from Old English wīr; see wei- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.