Word of the Day


© Alamy Stock Photo
Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a vehicle with two wheels that you ride by pushing pedals with your feet

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun bicycle was coined in the middle of the 19th century from the prefix ‘bi-‘ meaning two and the Greek ‘kuklos’ meaning wheel. The term ‘velocipede’, which preceded it, was coined in French in the early 19th century from Latin words meaning ‘swift’ and ‘foot’.


A bicycle is often called a bike and someone who rides one is called a cyclist. A biker is someone who rides a motorbike. Bicycles have taken many forms over the 200 years of their existence; one of the most recent forms is the e-bike. Yesterday was World Bicycle Day, a new event instituted by the General Assembly of the United Nations only last year. The resolution recognized “the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation”. The idea of celebrating the bicycle was the brainchild of US Professor Leszek Sibilski of Montgomery College, a community college in Maryland. Professor Sibilski and his students led a campaign to gain recognition for the role the bicycle can play in achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals, and managed to persuade 56 countries to sponsor the resolution.


“Our first goal for promoting the bicycle should be achieving 100 percent global cycling literacy. The bicycle should be a central tool of physical education, as well as civic and economic education, in schools the world over.”
(Leszek Sibilski)

Related words

cycle, push bike, tandem, tricycle

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment