- wheel (n.)
- Old English hweol, hweogol "wheel," from Proto-Germanic *hwewlaz- (cognates: Old Norse hvel, Old Swedish hiughl, Old Frisian hwel, Middle Dutch weel), from PIE *kw(e)-kwl-o- "wheel, circle," suffixed, reduplicated form of root *kwel- (1) (see cycle (n.)).
The root wegh-, "to convey, especially by wheeled vehicle," is found in virtually every branch of Indo-European, including now Anatolian. The root, as well as other widely represented roots such as aks- and nobh-, attests to the presence of the wheel -- and vehicles using it -- at the time Proto-Indo-European was spoken. [Watkins, p. 96]
Figurative sense is early 14c. Wheel of fortune attested from early 15c. Slang wheels "a car" is recorded from 1959. Wheeler-dealer is from 1954, a rhyming elaboration of dealer.
- wheel (v.)
- "to turn like a wheel," c. 1200, from wheel (n.); transitive sense attested from late 14c. Related: Wheeled; wheeling.