wheel within a wheel

wheel within a wheel

Something that is very complex and perhaps overly complicated. The phrase originated in the Bible. I can't figure out how to turn off this alarm system—it's really a wheel within a wheel.
See also: wheel, within
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

wheels within wheels

Complex interacting processes, agents, or motives, as in It's difficult to find out just which government agency is responsible; there are wheels within wheels . This term, which now evokes the complex interaction of gears, may derive from a scene in the Bible (Ezekiel 1:16): "Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel." [c. 1600]
See also: wheel, within
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

wheels within wheels

If you say that there are wheels within wheels in a situation, you mean that it is very complicated and there are many different things involved in it, all of which influence each another. Our culture is more complex than he knows. Wheels within wheels and hierarchies. There are wheels within wheels within wheels in the espionage game. Note: This expression comes from the Bible: `And their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.' (Ezekiel 1:16)
See also: wheel, within
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

wheels within wheels

used to indicate that a situation is complicated and affected by secret or indirect influences.
The image here is of the cogs found in pieces of intricate machinery.
See also: wheel, within
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

(there are) ˌwheels within ˈwheels

used to describe a situation which is difficult to understand because it involves complicated or secret processes and decisions: In making political agreements there are always wheels within wheels.There are wheels within wheels in this organization — you never really know what’s going on.
See also: wheel, within
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

wheels within wheels

Complex motives or actions that interact with one another. This seemingly modern mechanistic term comes from the Old Testament of the Bible: “Their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel” (Ezekiel 1:16). About the middle of the eighteenth century wheel became plural and has so remained. “There are wheels within wheels—permutations and combinations which they never hope to unravel,” wrote Francis Beeding (Eleven Were Brave, 1941).
See also: wheel, within
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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