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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.]


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
References in classic literature ?
It's like burned feathers," observed Amy, smoothing her own pretty curls with a superior air.
But tone down the charge in your rifle and use a smaller projectile, or you'll have nothing but a bunch of feathers to show for your shot.
We could find out whether they ran straight down, or were horizontal, like mole-holes; whether they had underground connections; whether the owls had nests down there, lined with feathers.
One of La Blanche's little quadroon boys--half naked too--stood fanning the child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers.
He will make the fire-water from the islands in the salt lake flow before the wigwam of Magua, until the heart of the Indian shall be lighter than the feathers of the humming- bird, and his breath sweeter than the wild honeysuckle.
A party of Indians -- in their savage finery of curiously embroidered deerskin robes, wampum-belts, red and yellow ochre, and feathers, and armed with the bow and arrow and stone-headed spear -- stood apart with countenances of inflexible gravity, beyond what even the Puritan aspect could attain.
But calm, snow-white, and unvarying; still directing its fountain of feathers to the sky; still beckoning us on from before, the solitary jet would at times be descried.
Some hours after midnight, the Typhoon abated so much, that through the strenuous exertions of Starbuck and Stubb --one engaged forward and the other aft --the shivered remnants of the jib and fore and main-top-sails were cut adrift from the spars, and went eddying away to leeward, like the feathers of an albatross, which sometimes are cast to the winds when that storm-tossed bird is on the wing.
Feather your nest," it ran--and went on to say that it could furnish all the necessary feathers for a four-room nest for the ludicrously small sum of seventy-five dollars.
Just show 'em how many watches, feathers, and trinkets, one's weight in gold would buy, and that alters the case, I reckon.
However, it was not good politics to let the king come without any fuss and feathers at all, so I went down and drummed up a procession of pilgrims and smoked out a batch of hermits and started them out at two o'clock to meet him.
Well, so he is, in a measure-- but he's got feathers on him, and don't belong to no church, perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much human as you be.