—featherless, adj. —featherlessness, n. —featherlike, adj./fedh"euhr/, n.1. one of the horny structures forming the principal covering of birds, consisting typically of a hard, tubular portion attached to the body and tapering into a thinner, stemlike portion bearing a series of slender, barbed processes that interlock to form a flat structure on each side.2. kind; character; nature: two boys of the same feather.3. something like a feather, as a tuft or fringe of hair.4. something very light, small, or trivial: Your worry is a mere feather.5. Archery. one of the vanes at the tail of an arrow or dart.6. Carpentry. a spline for joining the grooved edges of two boards.7. Masonry. See under plug and feathers.8. a featherlike flaw, esp. in a precious stone.9. Mach. See feather key.10. Archaic. attire.11. Obs. plumage.12. a feather in one's cap, a praiseworthy accomplishment; distinction; honor: Being chosen class president is a feather in her cap.14. in fine or high feather, in good form, humor, or health: feeling in fine feather.15. ruffle someone's feathers, to anger, upset, or annoy (another person).16. smooth one's ruffled or rumpled feathers, to regain one's composure; become calm: After the argument, we each retired to our own rooms to smooth our ruffled feathers.v.t.17. to provide with feathers, as an arrow.18. to clothe or cover with or as with feathers.19. Rowing. to turn (an oar) after a stroke so that the blade becomes nearly horizontal, and hold it thus as it is moved back into position for the next stroke.20. Aeron.a. to change the blade angle of (a propeller) so that the chords of the blades are approximately parallel to the line of flight.b. to turn off (an engine) while in flight.v.i.21. to grow feathers.22. to be or become feathery in appearance.23. to move like feathers.24. Rowing. to feather an oar.25. feather into, South Midland U.S. to attack (a person, task, or problem) vigorously.26. feather one's nest, to take advantage of the opportunities to enrich oneself: The mayor had used his term of office to feather his nest.[bef. 900; ME, OE fether; c. D veder, G Feder, ON fjothr; akin to Gk pterón, Skt pátram wing, feather]
* * *Component structure of the outer covering and flight surfaces of all modern birds.Unique to birds, feathers apparently evolved from the scales of birds' reptilian ancestors. Feathers are variously specialized for insulation, flight, formation of body contours, display, and sensory reception. Unlike the hair of most mammals, feathers do not cover the entire skin surface of birds but are arranged in symmetrical tracts alternating with areas of bare skin, which may contain the small, soft feathers called down. A typical feather consists of a central shaft (rachis), with serial paired branches (barbs) forming a flattened, usually curved surfacethe vane. The barbs possess further branches, the barbules, and the barbules of adjacent barbs are attached to one another by hooks, stiffening the vane.
* * *▪ zoologythe component structure of the outer covering and flight surfaces of all modern birds. Unique to birds, feathers apparently evolved from the scales of birds' reptilian ancestors. The many different types of feathers are variously specialized for insulation, flight, formation of body contours, display, and sensory reception.Unlike the hair of most mammals, feathers do not cover the entire skin surface of birds but are arranged in symmetrical tracts (pterylae) with areas of bare skin (apteria) between. The latter may contain the small, soft feathers called down.The typical feather consists of a central shaft (rachis), with serial paired branches (barbs) forming a flattened, usually curved surface—the vane. The barbs possess further branches —the barbules—and the barbules of adjacent barbs are attached to one another by hooks, stiffening the vane. In many birds, some or all of the feathers lack the barbules or the hooks, and the plumage has a loose, hairlike appearance.Feathers have been used for ornamentation and as regalia in many societies, both nonliterate and highly developed. Hats and other accoutrements have featured or been constructed entirely of feathers and sometimes entire wings or pairs of wings down to modern times. Numerous governments have protected colourful species of birds to prevent their extinction at the hands of feather hunters. Feathers from domestic fowl slaughtered for meat are a standard by-product of poultry farmers and are used for decoration, padding, and insulation. See also plumage.
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