To show the white feather
Feather Feath"er (f[e^][th]"[~e]r), n. [OE. fether, AS. fe[eth]er; akin to D. veder, OHG. fedara, G. feder, Icel. fj["o][eth]r, Sw. fj["a]der, Dan. fj[ae]der, Gr. ptero`n wing, feather, pe`tesqai to fly, Skr. pattra wing, feather, pat to fly, and prob. to L. penna feather, wing. [root]76, 248. Cf. {Pen} a feather.] 1. One of the peculiar dermal appendages, of several kinds, belonging to birds, as contour feathers, quills, and down. [1913 Webster]

Note: An ordinary feather consists of the quill or hollow basal part of the stem; the shaft or rachis, forming the upper, solid part of the stem; the vanes or webs, implanted on the rachis and consisting of a series of slender lamin[ae] or barbs, which usually bear barbules, which in turn usually bear barbicels and interlocking hooks by which they are fastened together. See {Down}, {Quill}, {Plumage}.

2. Kind; nature; species; -- from the proverbial phrase, ``Birds of a feather,'' that is, of the same species. [R.] [1913 Webster]

I am not of that feather to shake off My friend when he must need me. --Shak. [1913 Webster]

3. The fringe of long hair on the legs of the setter and some other dogs. [1913 Webster]

4. A tuft of peculiar, long, frizzly hair on a horse. [1913 Webster]

5. One of the fins or wings on the shaft of an arrow. [1913 Webster]

6. (Mach. & Carp.) A longitudinal strip projecting as a fin from an object, to strengthen it, or to enter a channel in another object and thereby prevent displacement sidwise but permit motion lengthwise; a spline. [1913 Webster]

7. A thin wedge driven between the two semicylindrical parts of a divided plug in a hole bored in a stone, to rend the stone. --Knight. [1913 Webster]

8. The angular adjustment of an oar or paddle-wheel float, with reference to a horizontal axis, as it leaves or enters the water. [1913 Webster]

Note: Feather is used adjectively or in combination, meaning composed of, or resembling, a feather or feathers; as, feather fan, feather-heeled, feather duster. [1913 Webster]

{Feather alum} (Min.), a hydrous sulphate of alumina, resulting from volcanic action, and from the decomposition of iron pyrites; -- called also {halotrichite}. --Ure.

{Feather bed}, a bed filled with feathers.

{Feather driver}, one who prepares feathers by beating.

{Feather duster}, a dusting brush of feathers.

{Feather flower}, an artifical flower made of feathers, for ladies' headdresses, and other ornamental purposes.

{Feather grass} (Bot.), a kind of grass ({Stipa pennata}) which has a long feathery awn rising from one of the chaffy scales which inclose the grain.

{Feather maker}, one who makes plumes, etc., of feathers, real or artificial.

{Feather ore} (Min.), a sulphide of antimony and lead, sometimes found in capillary forms and like a cobweb, but also massive. It is a variety of Jamesonite.

{Feather shot}, or {Feathered shot} (Metal.), copper granulated by pouring into cold water. --Raymond.

{Feather spray} (Naut.), the spray thrown up, like pairs of feathers, by the cutwater of a fast-moving vessel.

{Feather star}. (Zo["o]l.) See {Comatula}.

{Feather weight}. (Racing) (a) Scrupulously exact weight, so that a feather would turn the scale, when a jockey is weighed or weighted. (b) The lightest weight that can be put on the back of a horse in racing. --Youatt. (c) In wrestling, boxing, etc., a term applied to the lightest of the classes into which contestants are divided; -- in contradistinction to {light weight}, {middle weight}, and {heavy weight}.

{A feather in the cap} an honour, trophy, or mark of distinction. [Colloq.]

{To be in full feather}, to be in full dress or in one's best clothes. [Collog.]

{To be in high feather}, to be in high spirits. [Collog.]

{To cut a feather}. (a) (Naut.) To make the water foam in moving; in allusion to the ripple which a ship throws off from her bows. (b) To make one's self conspicuous. [Colloq.]

{To show the white feather}, to betray cowardice, -- a white feather in the tail of a cock being considered an indication that he is not of the true game breed. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • show the white feather — To show signs of cowardice, a white feather in a gamecock s tail being considered as a sign of degeneracy • • • Main Entry: ↑feather * * * Brit., dated behave in a cowardly fashion …   Useful english dictionary

  • To be in full feather — Feather Feath er (f[e^][th] [ e]r), n. [OE. fether, AS. fe[eth]er; akin to D. veder, OHG. fedara, G. feder, Icel. fj[ o][eth]r, Sw. fj[ a]der, Dan. fj[ae]der, Gr. ptero n wing, feather, pe tesqai to fly, Skr. pattra wing, feather, pat to fly, and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • To be in high feather — Feather Feath er (f[e^][th] [ e]r), n. [OE. fether, AS. fe[eth]er; akin to D. veder, OHG. fedara, G. feder, Icel. fj[ o][eth]r, Sw. fj[ a]der, Dan. fj[ae]der, Gr. ptero n wing, feather, pe tesqai to fly, Skr. pattra wing, feather, pat to fly, and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • White feather — White White (hw[imac]t), a. [Compar. {Whiter} (hw[imac]t [ e]r); superl. {Whitest}.] [OE. whit, AS. hw[imac]t; akin to OFries. and OS. hw[=i]t, D. wit, G. weiss, OHG. w[=i]z, hw[=i]z, Icel. hv[=i]tr, Sw. hvit, Dan. hvid, Goth. hweits, Lith.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • The White House — White White (hw[imac]t), a. [Compar. {Whiter} (hw[imac]t [ e]r); superl. {Whitest}.] [OE. whit, AS. hw[imac]t; akin to OFries. and OS. hw[=i]t, D. wit, G. weiss, OHG. w[=i]z, hw[=i]z, Icel. hv[=i]tr, Sw. hvit, Dan. hvid, Goth. hweits, Lith.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • white feather — n. symbol of cowardice to show the white feather * * * [ symbol of cowardice ] to show the white feather …   Combinatory dictionary

  • white feather — Chiefly Brit. 1. a symbol of cowardice. 2. show the white feather, to behave in a cowardly manner. [1775 85; orig. from a white feather in a gamecock s tail, taken as a sign of inferior breeding and hence of poor fighting qualities] * * * …   Universalium

  • White feather — A white feather is sometimes given as a mark of cowardice. A white feather has been a traditional symbol of cowardice, used and recognised especially within the British Army and in countries associated with the British Empire since the 18th… …   Wikipedia

  • Feather — Feath er (f[e^][th] [ e]r), n. [OE. fether, AS. fe[eth]er; akin to D. veder, OHG. fedara, G. feder, Icel. fj[ o][eth]r, Sw. fj[ a]der, Dan. fj[ae]der, Gr. ptero n wing, feather, pe tesqai to fly, Skr. pattra wing, feather, pat to fly, and prob.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Feather alum — Feather Feath er (f[e^][th] [ e]r), n. [OE. fether, AS. fe[eth]er; akin to D. veder, OHG. fedara, G. feder, Icel. fj[ o][eth]r, Sw. fj[ a]der, Dan. fj[ae]der, Gr. ptero n wing, feather, pe tesqai to fly, Skr. pattra wing, feather, pat to fly, and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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