Last modified on 23 September 2014, at 03:44

windmill

EnglishEdit

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A windmill in Friesland.

EtymologyEdit

From Middle English windmille, windmelle, windmulle, windmilne, wyndemylne, from Old English *windmylen, equivalent to wind +‎ mill. Cognate with Scots wyndmyln, wyndmyl (windmill), Saterland Frisian Wiendmäälne (windmill), West Frisian wynmûne (windmill), Dutch windmolen (windmill), Dutch Low Saxon windmölle (Achterhooks), wiendmeule (windmill) (Drents, Veluws), German Windmühle (windmill), Danish vindmølle (windmill), Swedish vindmölla (windmill), Icelandic vindmylla (windmill).

PronunciationEdit

NounEdit

windmill (plural windmills)

  1. A machine which translates linear motion of wind to rotational motion by means of adjustable vanes called sails.
    • 2013 July-August, Lee S. Langston, “The Adaptable Gas Turbine”, American Scientist: 
      Turbines have been around for a long time—windmills and water wheels are early examples. The name comes from the Latin turbo, meaning vortex, and thus the defining property of a turbine is that a fluid or gas turns the blades of a rotor, which is attached to a shaft that can perform useful work.
  2. The structure containing such machinery.
  3. A child's toy consisting of vanes mounted on a stick that rotate when blown by a person or by the wind.
  4. (basketball) A dunk where the dunker swings his arm in a circular motion before throwing the ball through the hoop.
  5. A guitar move where the strumming hand mimics a turning windmill.
  6. (juggling) The false shower.

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VerbEdit

windmill (third-person singular simple present windmills, present participle windmilling, simple past and past participle windmilled)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To rotate (itself) with a sweeping motion.
    She ran down the hill, windmilling her arms with glee.
    • 1999, Jon Sharpe, Texas Hellion:
      True to her word, her hips windmilled in a frenzy.
    • 2005, Gideon Defoe, The Pirates!: in an adventure with Ahab, page 140:
      As the Pirate Captain strained at the ham, the whale began to spasm and buck about in the water. Its tail thrashed wildly up and down. Its flippers windmilled in the air uselessly.
  2. (intransitive) Of a rotating part of a machine, to (become disengaged and) rotate freely.
    The axle broke and the wheel windmilled in place briefly before careening through the wall.
    • 2000, Walter J. Boyne, Philip Handleman, Brassey's Air Combat Reader, page 18:
      When he went to switch on his rotary engine again, the Le Rhone refused to pick up. Nothing happened! The propeller simply windmilled in the slip stream. Garros knew immediately what was wrong and cursed himself for his imbecility.
    • 2004, Deborah Bedford, If I Had You:
      The propeller windmilled in front of them. Creede tried to start the engine. It growled like something angry, died away. "We're ... gonna have to ... ride this thing ... to the ground."
    • 2006, James R. Hansen, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, page 134:
      [...] the propeller blade on number-four engine windmilled in the air stream. "I wasn't too concerned about it, really," recalls Butchart. "B-29 engines are not all that dependable."

QuotationsEdit

  • 1978, Peter Hathaway Capstick, Death in the long grass, page 97:
    The engine windmilled in the afternoon heat for a few seconds, then gargled to a reluctant death.

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