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1. One of the light, flat structures growing from the skin of birds, consisting of numerous slender, closely arranged parallel barbs forming a vane on either side of a horny, tapering, partly hollow shaft.
2. A feathery tuft or fringe of hair, as on the legs or tail of some dogs.
3. Character, kind, or nature: Birds of a feather flock together.
a. A strip, wedge, or flange used as a strengthening part.
b. A wedge or key that fits into a groove to make a joint.
5. The vane of an arrow.
6. A feather-shaped flaw, as in a precious stone.
7. The wake made by a submarine's periscope.
8. The act of feathering the blade of an oar in rowing.
v. feath·ered, feath·er·ing, feath·ers
v. tr.
1. To cover, dress, or decorate with feathers or featherlike projections.
2. To fit (an arrow) with a feather.
a. To thin, reduce, or fringe the edge of (wood, for example) by cutting, shaving, or making thinner.
b. To spread (paint, for example) thinly at the edges so as to blend with the surrounding area.
c. To shorten and taper (hair) by cutting and thinning.
d. To blur or soften the edge of (an image).
4. To apply (a brake, throttle, or other control) gently or slightly and steadily.
5. To turn (an oar blade) almost horizontal as it is carried back after each stroke.
a. To alter the pitch of (a propeller) so that the chords of the blades are parallel with the line of flight.
b. To alter the pitch of (the rotor of a helicopter) while in forward flight.
7. To turn off (an aircraft engine) while in flight.
v. intr.
1. To grow feathers or become feathered.
2. To move, spread, or grow in a manner suggestive of feathers: "Steam feathered out from under the bathroom door" (Melinda Hayes).
3. To become thin or less dense at the edges: "That lipstick had feathered out in the corners of her mouth" (Erin McCarthy).
4. To feather an oar.
5. To feather a propeller.
feather in (one's) cap
An act or deed to one's credit; a distinctive achievement.
feather (one's) nest
To grow wealthy by taking advantage of one's position or by making use of property or funds left in one's trust.
in fine (or good or high) feather
In excellent form, health, or humor.

[Middle English fether, from Old English; see pet- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


pl n
1. (Zoology) the plumage of a bird
2. (Zoology) Also called: feathering the long hair on the legs or tail of certain breeds of horses and dogs
3. informal dress; attire: her best feathers.
4. ruffle feathers to cause upset or offence
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in classic literature ?
They generally wore feathers in their hats, and affected the "brave." "Je suis un homme du nord!"-"I am a man of the north,"-one of these swelling fellows would exclaim, sticking his arms akimbo and ruffling by the Southwesters, whom he regarded with great contempt, as men softened by mild climates and the luxurious fare of bread and bacon, and whom he stigmatized with the inglorious name of pork- eaters.
And Cocky, only a few ounces in weight, less than half a pound, a tiny framework of fragile bone covered with a handful of feathers and incasing a heart that was as big in pluck as any heart on the Mary Turner, became almost immediately Michael's friend and comrade, as well as ruler.
Something seemed to be wrong in the chicken house, and when Dorothy looked through the slats in the door she saw a group of hens and roosters huddled in one corner and watching what appeared to be a whirling ball of feathers. It bounded here and there about the chicken house, and at first Dorothy could not tell what it was, while the screeching of the chickens nearly deafened her.
He was a man of immense stature and great square shoulders, and wore a hat covered with feathers. He gesticulated in the most majestic manner, and appeared, for D'Artagnan only saw his back, to be scolding the workmen for their idleness and want of strength.
"BUT as to a nest--there is no difficulty: I have a sackful of feathers in my wood- shed.
You must be very careful, however, to make my bed in the right way, for I wish you always to shake it thoroughly, so that the feathers fly about; then they say, down there in the world, that it is snowing; for I am Mother Holle.' The old woman spoke so kindly, that the girl summoned up courage and agreed to enter into her service.
There is food enough in it to keep the army of Xerxes for a month, and feathers enough to make beds for the whole country.
The maids wanted to dress the children in fine costumes of woven feathers, such as all the foxes wore; but neither of them consented to that.
The turbit has a very short and conical beak, with a line of reversed feathers down the breast; and it has the habit of continually expanding slightly the upper part of the oesophagus.
He turned sharply, and there, just above him on the branch of a tree, sat a large Parrot, busily preening his feathers.
Tulliver's monotonous pleading had doubtless its share of force; it might even be comparable to that proverbial feather which has the credit or discredit of breaking the camel's back; though, on a strictly impartial view, the blame ought rather to lie with the previous weight of feathers which had already placed the back in such imminent peril that an otherwise innocent feather could not settle on it without mischief.
I had reason to think that he might not need them again, seeing that a thirty-inch shaft had feathered in his back."