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or pin wheel

[pin-hweel, -weel] /ˈpɪnˌʰwil, -ˌwil/
a child's toy consisting of a wheel or leaflike curls of paper or plastic loosely attached by a pin to a stick, designed to revolve when blown by or as by the wind.
Also called catherine wheel. a kind of firework supported on a pin which, when ignited, revolves rapidly and gives a dazzling display of light.
a wheel having pins at right angles to its rim for engaging the teeth of a gear.
verb (used without object)
to revolve rapidly like a pinwheel:
Images of the past pinwheeled through his mind.
Origin of pinwheel
First recorded in 1695-1705; pin + wheel Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pinwheel
Historical Examples
  • Simeon spun around, as he said afterwards, "like a young one's pinwheel."

    The Depot Master Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Then he swung the light in full circles, till it became a pinwheel of flame.

    Young Hilda at the Wars

    Arthur Gleason
  • As he stared into the revenuer's insolent face, the earth looked like a pinwheel.

    The Red Debt

    Everett MacDonald
  • A pinwheel had exploded, sending a shower of sparks in every direction.

  • Persis went through the air like a pinwheel, and those who witnessed the affair gave up her and the horse for dead.

    What Will People Say? Rupert Hughes
  • Why, he began turning somersaults so fast that he looked just like a pinwheel going around, or an automobile tire whizzing along.

    Uncle Wiggily's Adventures Howard R. Garis
  • When you light a pinwheel, the wheel whirls around as the powder burns, and the sparks fly off in all directions.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • To roll the pinwheel pipes, lay the strips of paper evenly upon each other, and work them back with the thumbnail, as before.

  • Little by little the movement became faster and faster until they were spinning around like a pinwheel in a brisk breeze.

  • Then he goes in fast and grabs him by a coupla legs and arms, holds him up in the air, and spins him like a pinwheel.

British Dictionary definitions for pinwheel


another name for Catherine wheel (sense 1)
a cogwheel whose teeth are formed by small pins projecting either axially or radially from the rim of the wheel
(US & Canadian) a toy consisting of plastic or paper vanes attached to a stick in such a manner that they revolve like the sails of a windmill Also called (in Britain and certain other countries) windmill, whirligig
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pinwheel

also pin-wheel, 1690s, "a wheel in the striking train of a clock in which pins are fixed to lift the hammer," from pin (n.) + wheel (n.). Fireworks sense is from 1869.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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