As far as I know and have checked a few dictionaries and done some research, spoke is either a verb, past tense of speak, or a noun which has a few meanings such as the metal bars on a bicycle wheel; plus a few other meanings that are less frequently used. However none of them make sense in the following sentence from a Wikipedia article:

The Resolute Support Mission envisages the deployment of approximately 12,000 personnel from NATO and partner nations in Afghanistan with the central hub at Kabul and Bagram Airfield supporting four spokes.

What does the word mean in the sentence above?

  • 1
    You linked a definition from MW - please reread definition 1.b. and visualize a central hub with radiating spokes or logistical routes.
    – Davo
    Apr 12, 2019 at 18:58

2 Answers 2


The reference to the 'Airfield' in your sentence indicates that this is probably meant in the Airline Hub sense, which is a specific implementation of the spoke-hub distribution paradigm.

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In the above diagram, Denver is a hub; Los Angeles is another hub. Both have spokes radiating from them.


The definition of "metal bars on a bicycle wheel" is correct.

The article is using a wheel symbolically. Picture Kabul/Bagram Airfield centrally located (the bicycle hub) with spokes radiating out from the hub.

  • 3
    Actually this goes back several thousand years earlier than bicycles. The classical spoked wagon/chariot wheel had a hub and perhaps 8 spokes going out to the rim.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 12, 2019 at 19:32

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