The noun gear refers to several things. First, it’s the equipment we need for a sport or event. A gear is also a wheel with teeth that interlocks with another gear to transmit motion in a machine.

The background of gear as "equipment" dates back to around 1200 and comes from the Old Norse gervi, "apparel." The word gear in machinery became common in the early 19th century, although there is evidence that the word came to mean "toothed wheel" as early as 1520. Gear entered English slang around 1951, meaning something stylish. This use was popularized in the 1960s, under the influence of British pop music.

Definitions of gear
  1. noun
    a toothed wheel that engages another toothed mechanism in order to change the speed or direction of transmitted motion
    synonyms: cogwheel, gear wheel, geared wheel
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    bevel gear, pinion and crown wheel, pinion and ring gear
    gears that mesh at an angle
    escape wheel
    gear that engages a rocking lever
    a gear with a small number of teeth designed to mesh with a larger wheel or rack
    epicyclic gear, planet gear, planet wheel, planetary gear
    an outer gear that revolves about a central sun gear of an epicyclic train
    rack and pinion
    a wheel gear (the pinion) meshes with a toothed rack; converts rotary to reciprocating motion (and vice versa)
    spur gear, spur wheel
    gear wheels that mesh in the same plane
    sun gear
    the central gear in an epicyclic train
    worm gear
    gear consisting of a shaft with screw thread (the worm) that meshes with a toothed wheel (the worm wheel); changes the direction of the axis of rotary motion
    worm wheel
    gear with the thread of a worm
    differential, differential gear
    a bevel gear that permits rotation of two shafts at different speeds; used on the rear axle of automobiles to allow wheels to rotate at different speeds on curves
    lantern pinion, lantern wheel
    a small pinion having cylindrical bars instead of teeth, used chiefly in inexpensive clocks
    type of:
    a simple machine consisting of a circular frame with spokes (or a solid disc) that can rotate on a shaft or axle (as in vehicles or other machines)
  2. noun
    a mechanism for transmitting motion for some specific purpose (as the steering gear of a vehicle)
    synonyms: gear mechanism
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    first, first gear, low, low gear
    the lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle; used to start a car moving
    a set of gears
    high, high gear
    a forward gear with a gear ratio that gives the greatest vehicle velocity for a given engine speed
    a gear position that acts as a parking brake
    reverse, reverse gear
    the gears by which the motion of a machine can be reversed
    second, second gear
    the gear that has the second lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle
    steering gear
    a gear that couples the steering wheel to the steering linkage of a motor vehicle
    third, third gear
    the third from the lowest forward ratio gear in the gear box of a motor vehicle
    transmission, transmission system
    the gears that transmit power from an automobile engine via the driveshaft to the live axle
    a disengaged position, as of gears
    automatic drive, automatic transmission
    a transmission that automatically changes the gears according to the speed of the car
    4WD, four-wheel drive
    a transmission that provides power directly to all four wheels of a motor vehicle
    hydraulic transmission, hydraulic transmission system
    a transmission that depends on a hydraulic system
    a high gear used at high speeds to maintain the driving speed with less output power
    standard transmission, stick shift
    a transmission that is operated manually with a gear lever and a clutch pedal
    type of:
    device consisting of a piece of machinery; has moving parts that perform some function
  3. noun
    wheelwork consisting of a connected set of rotating gears by which force is transmitted or motion or torque is changed
    synonyms: gearing, geartrain, power train, train
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    epicyclic gear train, epicyclic train
    a system of epicyclic gears in which at least one wheel axis itself revolves about another fixed axis
    reduction gear
    gearing that reduces an input speed to a slower output speed
    type of:
    mechanical device including an arrangement of wheel in a machine (especially a train of gears)
  4. verb
    set the level or character of
    synonyms: pitch
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    popularise, popularize
    make understandable to the general public
    type of:
    accommodate, adapt
    make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose
  5. noun
    equipment consisting of miscellaneous articles needed for a particular operation or sport etc.
    synonyms: appurtenance, paraphernalia
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    fishing gear, fishing rig, fishing tackle, rig, tackle
    gear used in fishing
    kit, outfit
    gear consisting of a set of articles or tools for a specified purpose
    paraphernalia indicative of royalty (or other high office)
    gear (including necessary machinery) for a particular enterprise
    rigging, tackle
    gear consisting of ropes etc. supporting a ship's masts and sails
    saddlery, stable gear, tack
    gear for a horse
    piece of metal held in horse's mouth by reins and used to control the horse while riding
    caparison, housing, trapping
    stable gear consisting of a decorated covering for a horse, especially (formerly) for a warhorse
    carpenter's kit, tool kit
    a set of carpenter's tools
    cinch, girth
    stable gear consisting of a band around a horse's belly that holds the saddle in place
    crown jewels
    regalia (jewelry and other paraphernalia) worn by a sovereign on state occasions
    drill rig, drilling rig, oil rig, oilrig
    rig used in drilling for oil or gas
    first-aid kit
    kit consisting of a set of bandages and medicines for giving first aid
    stable gear consisting of either of two curved supports that are attached to the collar of a draft horse and that hold the traces
    stable gear consisting of an arrangement of leather straps fitted to a draft animal so that it can be attached to and pull a cart
    stable gear consisting of any part of a harness that fits about the horse's head
    kit consisting of a complete outfit (clothing and accessories) for a new baby
    a harness strap that connects the nose piece to the girth; prevents the horse from throwing back its head
    mess kit
    kit containing a metal dish and eating utensils; used by soldiers and campers
    horse blanket, saddle blanket, saddlecloth
    stable gear consisting of a blanket placed under the saddle
    sewing kit
    a kit of articles used in sewing
    stable gear that joins two draft animals at the neck so they can work together as a team
    type of:
    an instrumentality needed for an undertaking or to perform a service
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