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metal filament, strand, or solid rod usually having a round cross section. Metals and alloys used for wiremaking are chosen for high tensile strength and ductility or for their electrical conductivity, weight, melting point, or other properties, depending upon the use to which the wire is to be put. The size of a wire is the measure of its diameter. For convenience, the different wires are numbered in order of decreasing size, the number being known as the gauge, or gage; the higher the gauge the smaller the diameter. The number of gauges used and their sizes differ according to the kind of wire and the country's standards of measurement. In the United States the American wire gauge, known also as the Brown & Sharpe wire gauge (abbr. B. & S.), is used; in Great Britain and Canada the British, or imperial, standard wire gauge (S.W.G.) is employed. For steel wire the steel wire gauge (also known as the Washburn & Moen, the Roebling, or the American Steel & Wire Co.'s wire gauge) is employed. Wire is widely used in conducting electricity and in making fencing, screens, netting, springs, and mesh or cloth. Very thin wire is used in various scientific instruments. A wire mesh is often used in glass (wire glass) to prevent shattering and to increase strength and safety. Wire rope (cable) is made by forming wires into strands that are then wound on a core. Wire has been used since the 3d millennium B.C. In early times the metal was hammered into sheets, then cut in strips and shaped with hammer and file. The modern method of drawing wire is believed to have originated in Europe late in the 13th cent. In this process the metal is pulled, or drawn, through a number of holes, each smaller than the one preceding, until finally it is passed through the hole having the desired diameter. Metal plates with such holes are known as drawplates or dies. Success in drawing wire through the drawplate formerly depended upon the physical strength of the wiredrawer (or wiresmith), since machinery was not used until the introduction of power-driven cylinder blocks to pull and coil the wire. With the establishment of telegraph lines in the late 1800s, the production of wire expanded into one of the greatest industries of the 19th cent.



a lengthy metal product having a very small ratio between length and cross-sectional size (smaller than that of any other metallurgical semifinished product). The cross section of a wire can be circular and, less frequently, hexagonal, tetragonal, trapezoidal, or oval. Wire is manufactured from steel, aluminum, copper, nickel, titanium, zinc, and their corresponding alloys, as well as from refractory and noble metals; bimetallic and polymetallic wire is also manufactured.

There are two stages in wire manufacturing: (1) preparation of a billet and (2) drawing of the billet into wire of final dimensions. Billets made of steel or copper or of nickel, aluminum, or titanium alloys are primarily obtained by hot rolling. Billets made of pure aluminum, zinc, and certain copper alloys are prepared by continuous casting, while those made of noble metals, bimetals, and polymetals are obtained by pressing; pressing is also used to prepare billets of aluminum and nickel alloys in small-scale production. Refractory metals, for example, tungsten, are shaped into billets by the rotary forging of sintered powder fillets.

Wire is manufacured with diameters ranging from 0.005 to 17 mm and with various surface qualities, including dark, light, ground, and polished surfaces. In many cases, wire is subjected to heat treatments, for example, annealing, normalizing, or hardening. Steel wire may have an anticorrosive coating; it may be galvanized, tinned, oxidized, or lacquered.

Wire is used in the manufacture of electric conductors, hardware, springs, precision drills, thermocouples, electrodes, and terminals of electronic equipment.



A single bare or insulated metallic conductor having solid, stranded, or tinsel construction, designed to carry current in an electric circuit. Also known as electric wire.
A thin, flexible, continuous length of metal, usually of circular cross section.
A filament, usually consisting of a stretched strand of spider's web or a fine metal wire, mounted in the field of view of a telescope eyepiece to serve as a reference or for measurements. Also known as web.


A filament or slender rod of drawn metal.


1. a slender flexible strand or rod of metal
2. a cable consisting of several metal strands twisted together
3. a flexible metallic conductor, esp one made of copper, usually insulated, and used to carry electric current in a circuit
4. anything made of wire, such as wire netting, a barbed wire fence, etc.
5. a metallic string on a guitar, piano, etc.
6. Horse racing chiefly US and Canadian the finishing line on a racecourse
7. a wire-gauze screen upon which pulp is spread to form paper during the manufacturing process
8. a snare made of wire for rabbits and similar animals


Generally refers to the physical cabling in a network. "Over the wire" means transmitting the signals onto the physical medium. Increasingly, the wire is no longer metal, but glass.
References in classic literature ?
He littered it with tuning- forks, magnets, batteries, coils of wire, tin trumpets, and cigar-boxes.
It is an evidence that we may some day have a musical telegraph, which will send as many messages simultaneously over one wire as there are notes on that piano.
Later, Bell ventured to confide to Hubbard his wild dream of sending speech over an electric wire, but Hubbard laughed him to scorn.
When old Smallways died, Tom could think of nothing more striking to say of him than that, "When he was a boy, there wasn't nothing higher than your chimbleys--there wasn't a wire nor a cable in the sky
Fences of barbed wire ten feet high, and inside that they do things.
There were books, rifles, revolvers, ammunition, cameras, chemicals, telephones, telegraph instruments, wire, tool and more books--books upon every subject under the sun.
Among the other things which I sent to Innes was over five hundred miles of double, insulated wire of a very fine gauge.
Cornelius tenderly stretched out his hands towards her, but they were only able to touch each other with the tips of their fingers through the wire grating.
Watching the rigging up of the barbed wire, Jerry's next adventure was an encounter with Lerumie, the return boy from Meringe, who, only that morning, on the beach embarking, had been rolled by Biddy, along with his possessions into the surf.
Jerry, scarcely aware of Lerumie's presence, was trotting past on his way aft to where Borckman, the mate, was superintending the stringing of the barbed wire to the stanchions.
Bring with you the three fat goats, the new sleeping mat, and the piece of copper wire the length of a large man's forearm.
I will make no medicine," he said, "until I have the goats and the mat and the copper wire.