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 ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.