gear

Definitions

General English

Accounting

  • verb to link something to something else

Aviation

  • noun a toothed wheel that turns with another toothed part to transmit motion or change speed or direction

Cars & Driving

  • noun a toothed wheel connecting with another wheel of different diameter to change the power ratio of the engine.
  • noun one of the combination of gears in a gearbox that a driver selects to impart motion to a car

Construction

  • A toothed wheel, cone, cylinder, or other machined element that is designed to mesh with another similarly toothed element for purposes that include the transmission of power and the change of speed or direction.

Publishing

  • noun a system of moving wheels, which connect together to give movement to a machine

Slang

  • adjective excellent, absolutely right, first rate. An ephemeral vogue word that spread with the popularity of the Beatles and the ‘Mersey sound’ from Liverpool in 1963 to be picked up by the media (a fact which incidentally marked its demise as a fashionable term). It is related to ‘the gear’, meaning the ‘real thing’ or top quality merchandise.
  • noun clothes, accessories. Now a widely used colloquialism, gear was slang, in the sense of being a vogue word in restricted usage, in the early 1960s, when its use paralleled the new interest in fashion among mods.
  • noun illicit drug(s). Since the early 1960s gear has been used by drug abusers, prisoners, etc. to denote, in particular, cannabis or heroin. In this sense the word is a typical part of the drug user’s quasi-military or workmanlike vocabulary (works, equipment and artillery are other examples).

Origin & History of “gear”

The etymological meaning of gear is roughly ‘that which puts one in a state of readiness’ – hence ‘equipment, apparatus’. Its ultimate source is prehistoric Indo-European *garw-, which also produced the now obsolete English adjective yare ‘ready’ and (via Germanic, Italian, and French) garh (16th c.). A derivative *garwīn- passed into Old Norse as gervi, which English borrowed as gear. The mechanical sense of the word developed in the 16th century.
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