The phrasal verb mentioned in the title, wheeled on, can't be found in any* dictionary. Usages:

In fact it was the experts, or at least those wheeled on by the remainers who didn't get it. -- Roger Scruton

Most of the "experts" wheeled on by the Beeb are Scottish. -- Ann Widdecombe

She suspected Daddy had been wheeled on by Letitia to keep her in play, to enable his daughter to concentrate and judge in silence. -- Barbara Anderson, Portrait of the Artist's Wife

From the usages above I guess it is an expressive way of saying "appointed".

If you are familiar with the expression, would you define it and perhaps elaborate on its meaning?

* As @Clare pointed out, it is defined in the Oxford dictionaries.


2 Answers 2


The term is slightly derogatory of the experts who have been 'wheeled on'. It implies they are not capable of locomoting themselves on to the stage. They are like ventriloquist' dummies, wheeled on by a trolley and operated by levers.

Thus, their words are cynically viewed as being biased in the direction of those who, presumably for favour or money, trundle them out in times of media distress.

  • Yes I think there's the suggestion that it's automated machinery which gets the 'experts' their spot in the limelight; rather than being down to a carefully balanced represetative decision process.
    – Mark E K
    Oct 14, 2017 at 11:35

Yes, as someone who pays a lot of attention to media criticism and alternative media, your examples are definitely in the right context.

It means "bring on a supposed expert who is really a reliable supporter, a shill even, chosen by the event organisier (or eg news producer) to reiterate their views"; ie someone who will safely trot out what the news provider, or power behind the event in qiestion - conference, school assembly etc - wants them to.

In the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, for example, a short film I remember highlighted how the overwhelming majority of supposed 'independent experts' brought on to our screens were avidly pro-war. They were "wheeled on" by consistently pro-war corporate news providers to back up the pro-war argument. Their presentation as 'independent' was a sham.

It doesn't have to be used so extremely cynically though, but there is always some degree of cynicism in its usage: eg an older schoolkid moaning about his school assembly (in UK assembly is the regular all school meeting) on the theme of crossing the road safely, which he's had to sit through several times before, might talk of the school "wheeling on the same road traffic victims / retired cops as every year".

A synonym is "wheel out".

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