under the wire

under the wire


  1. a slender, stringlike piece or filament of relatively rigid or flexible metal, usually circular in section, manufactured in a great variety of diameters and metals depending on its application.
  2. such pieces as a material.
  3. a length of such material, consisting either of a single filament or of several filaments woven or twisted together and usually insulated with a dielectric material, used as a conductor of electricity.
  4. a cross wire or a cross hair.
  5. a barbed-wire fence.
  6. a long wire or cable used in cable, telegraph, or telephone systems.
  7. Nautical. a wire rope.
  8. Informal.
    1. a telegram.
    2. the telegraphic system: to send a message by wire.
  9. wires, a system of wires by which puppets are moved.
  10. a metallic string of a musical instrument.
  11. Underworld Slang. the member of a pickpocket team who picks the victim’s pocket.Compare stall2(def 5).
  12. Horse Racing. a wire stretched across and above the track at the finish line, under which the horses pass.
  13. Ornithology. one of the extremely long, slender, wirelike filaments or shafts of the plumage of various birds.
  14. a metal device for snaring rabbits and other small game.
  15. Papermaking. the woven wire mesh over which the wet pulp is spread in a papermaking machine.
  16. the wire, the telephone: There’s someone on the wire for you.


  1. made of wire; consisting of or constructed with wires.
  2. resembling wire; wirelike.

verb (used with object), wired, wir·ing.

  1. to furnish with wires.
  2. to install an electric system of wiring in, as for lighting.
  3. to fasten or bind with wire: He wired the halves together.
  4. to put on a wire, as beads.
  5. to send by telegraph, as a message: Please wire the money at once.
  6. to send a telegraphic message to: She wired him to come at once.
  7. to snare by means of a wire.
  8. to equip with a hidden electronic device, as an eavesdropping device or an explosive.
  9. to connect (a receiver, area, or building) to a television cable and other equipment so that cable television programs may be received.
  10. Informal. to be closely connected or involved with: a law firm wired into political circles.
  11. Informal. to prepare, equip, fix, or arrange to suit needs or goals: The sales force was wired for an all-out effort.
  12. Croquet. to block (a ball) by placing it behind the wire of an arch.

verb (used without object), wired, wir·ing.

  1. to send a telegraphic message; telegraph: Don’t write; wire.


  1. down to the wire, to the very last moment or the very end, as in a race or competition: The candidates campaigned down to the wire.
  2. pull wires, Informal. to use one’s position or influence to obtain a desired result: to pull wires to get someone a job.
  3. under the wire, just within the limit or deadline; scarcely; barely: to get an application in under the wire.


  1. a slender flexible strand or rod of metal
  2. a cable consisting of several metal strands twisted together
  3. a flexible metallic conductor, esp one made of copper, usually insulated, and used to carry electric current in a circuit
  4. (modifier) of, relating to, or made of wirea wire fence; a wire stripper
  5. anything made of wire, such as wire netting, a barbed wire fence, etc
  6. a long continuous wire or cable connecting points in a telephone or telegraph system
  7. old-fashioned
    1. an informal name for telegram, telegraph
    2. the wire an informal name for telephone
  8. a metallic string on a guitar, piano, etc
  9. horse racing, mainly US and Canadian the finishing line on a racecourse
  10. a wire-gauze screen upon which pulp is spread to form paper during the manufacturing process
  11. anything resembling a wire, such as a hair
  12. a snare made of wire for rabbits and similar animals
  13. to the wire or down to the wire informal right up to the last moment
  14. get in under the wire informal, mainly US and Canadian to accomplish something with little time to spare
  15. get one’s wires crossed informal to misunderstand
  16. pull wires mainly US and Canadian to exert influence behind the scenes, esp through personal connections; pull strings
  17. take it to the wire to compete to the bitter end to win a competition or title

verb (mainly tr)

  1. (also intr) to send a telegram to (a person or place)
  2. to send (news, a message, etc) by telegraph
  3. to equip (an electrical system, circuit, or component) with wires
  4. to fasten or furnish with wire
  5. (often foll by up) to provide (an area) with fibre optic cabling to receive cable television
  6. to string (beads, etc) on wire
  7. croquet to leave (a player’s ball) so that a hoop or peg lies between it and the other balls
  8. to snare with wire
  9. wire in informal to set about (something, esp food) with enthusiasm

n.Old English wir “metal drawn out into a thread,” from Proto-Germanic *wiraz (cf. Old Norse viravirka “filigree work,” Swedish vira “to twist,” Old High German wiara “fine gold work”), from PIE *wei- “to turn, twist, plait” (cf. Old Irish fiar, Welsh gwyr “bent, crooked;” Latin viere “to bend, twist,” viriæ “bracelets,” of Celtic origin). Wiretapping is recorded from 1904, from earlier wiretapper (1893). Wirepuller in the political sense is 1848, American English. v.“to furnish with wires,” mid-15c., from wire (n.). Related: Wired; wiring. Just in time: “Nancy mailed off her application, and it got in just under the wire.” From horse racing, in which the wire marks the finish line. Barely, scarcely, just within the limit, as in This book will be finished just under the wire. This term comes from horse racing, where the wire marks the finish line. [First half of 1900s] Also see down to the wire. see down to the wire; get one’s wires crossed; live wire; pull strings (wires); under the wire.

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