Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to the vehicle, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle is supported. In the latter case, a bearing or bushing sits inside a central hole in the wheel to allow the wheel or gear to rotate around the axle. Sometimes, especially on bicycles, the latter type axle is referred to as a spindle.
The oldest axle discovered was on a wooden wheel found in 2002 at the Ljubljana Marshes some 20 km south of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. According to radiocarbon dating, it is between 5,100 and 5,350 years old. The wheel was made of ash and oak and had a radius of 70 cm and the axle is 120 cm long and made of oak.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Axle \Ax"le\ ([a^]ks"'l), n. [OE. axel, exel, shoulder, AS. eaxl; akin to AS. eax axle, Sw. & Dan. axel shoulder, axle, G. achse axle, achsel shoulder, L. axis axle, Gr. 'a`xwn, Skr. aksha, L. axilla shoulder joint: cf. F. essieu, axle, OF. aissel, fr. dim. of L. axis. [root]205. Cf. 2d Axis.]
The pin or spindle on which a wheel revolves, or which revolves with a wheel.
A transverse bar or shaft connecting the opposite wheels of a car or carriage; an axletree.
An axis; as, the sun's axle.
Had from her axle torn The steadfast earth.
Note: Railway axles are called leading and trailing from their position in the front or in the rear of a car or truck respectively.
Etymology 1 n. (context obsolete English) shoulder. Etymology 2
n. 1 The pin or spindle on which a wheel revolves, or which revolves with a wheel. 2 A transverse bar or shaft connecting the opposite wheels of a car or carriage; an axletree. 3 An axis; as, the Sun’s axle.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
"pole or pin upon which a wheel revolves," Middle English axel-, from some combination of Old English eax and Old Norse öxull "axis," both from Proto-Germanic *akhsulaz (cognates: Old English eaxl, Old Saxon ahsla, Old High German ahsala, German Achsel "shoulder"), from PIE *aks- "axis" (see axis). Found only in compound axletree before 14c.
n. a shaft on which a wheel rotates
Usage examples of "axle".
Fifty eggs well fried will yield about five ounces of this oil, which is acrid, and so enduringly liquid that watch-makers use it for lubricating the axles and pivots of their most delicate wheels.
Greenstalk was silent for a second, then she did something funny with her axles, bumping free of the stickem.
Its controlling chains hung also from heavy gears upon an axle running across the ceiling, and the half-naked Deese wizards hauling thereon looked like toiling trolls in the flaring light.
It had a thick rear axle, a rear sprocket cluster, three chainwheels, and a derailleur at each end of the chain.
Wheels wet and yellow from axle to felloe, Throats blank of sound, but prophetic to sight.
He looks to where children play hopscotch beneath the awning of the truck axle company.
Unlike the typical Battlehammer juicers, which were really no more than a cylinder of stone on a thick axle with poles behind so the dwarves could rush it along, the new contraption had been given a distinct personality.
I had to walk up all the hills and down many, to get out at every place where a little bridge had been carried away, that the kuruma might be lifted over the gap, and often to walk for 200 yards at a time, because it sank up to its axles in the quagmire.
I lost the linch pin out of my forrard axle, and I turned up there to get it sot to rights.
Nicolai jumped up and went to stand facing one of the muralled walls, as if compelled by the heroic figure of a muscular redheaded man holding up an ingot in a pair of tongs, staring at it with such unalloyed devotion, it might have been the sacred light of Mother Russia soon to become an axle joint.
At the moment, all he could make out was a mass of mud-covered soldiers scrambling, slipping, knotting ropes and shouting inaudibly to each other, and at least three wagons buried to their axles on what had once been the road but had since turned into a river of mud.
So the wagons in which people no longer had to ride to sleep were stocked full of hay and grain for the horses and elephant, smoked meats for the lion, staple groceries for the humans, canisters of calcium carbide for the limelights, coils of rope, cans of paint and tar and coal oil and axle grease, harness and horseshoes and miscellaneous hardware, fabrics and thread and sequins for the wardrobe.
Entwined, they moved to meet the broad concave meniscus of the water surface near the axle of the wheel.
The wheels had been pinned onto new axles, the cars recoupled, a coat of paint dabbed on the caboose.
He listened harder and realized the thunder was not from the sky but low-planed along the streets, where sled axles humped the faulted paving, bounding off stone buildings, cueing windowpanes into quick vibration, echoing in closed alleyways, dying somewhere out there in the heat, distantly, leaving him with the tag ends of thoughts, the selvage of raveled dreams.