What is a subtype (or a wing) in the Enneagram?
In Blueprint, the combination of your type and your wing is called your “subtype.” If your base type is the main course that covers most of your personality, your wing is like a side dish that adds some flavor. Picture the nine Enneagram numbers as a circle: the wing possibilities are located next to the type, on either side of it. For example, a type Nine can have either a One wing or an Eight wing, sometimes written as “9w1” and “9w8.”
Each type can only have one wing, resulting in 18 personality subtypes in the Enneagram. It’s common for a person to read about their type and find that it sounds mostly like them, but it’s too broad. It is often when they read the type/wing combination that they feel the description truly fits.
Your wing must fall to one side of your base type. For example, a type Six can have either a Five wing or a Seven wing, sometimes written as “6w5” and “6w7.” You cannot have a wing that’s not adjacent to your base type (e.g., there’s no such thing as a Six with a Nine wing).
Your base type is always dominant compared to your wing, but the relative role of your wing can vary depending on who you are and what you’re going through in your life. For example, a Nine with a strong One wing (9w1) may feel almost split between the Nine and the One, as if they’re 51% Nine and 49% One. In contrast, a different person who’s also a Nine with a One wing may feel like their wing has very little influence on their personality, as if they’re 99% Nine and 1% One.
Some Enneagram scholars believe that the relative influence of your wing may change over time. For example, a Nine with an Eight wing (9w8) may feel that their Eight wing is gaining traction at certain periods in their life versus playing less of a role at other times.