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[hwur-li-gig, wur-] /ˈʰwɜr lɪˌgɪg, ˈwɜr-/
something that whirls or revolves.
a whirling motion or course:
the whirligig of fashion.
a giddy or flighty person.
Dialect. a merry-go-round or carrousel.
a toy for whirling or spinning, as a top.
Origin of whirligig
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English whirlegigge. See whirl, gig1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for whirligig
Historical Examples
  • "Thus the whirligig of time brings in his revenges," I hear him mutter, as he slips the superfluous consonant into its place.

    The Foot-path Way Bradford Torrey
  • Don't you see that Time is a whirligig, and all things come round?

    Kenelm Chillingly, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It chases the whirligig beetles and water-gnats on the surface, or routs at the bottom for caddisworms and other larv.

  • She is called “The whirligig” because she is so apt to be blown about by her emotions.

    In Doublet and Hose Lucy Foster Madison
  • The chief engineer seemed nonplused, like a slow man invited to catch hold of a whirligig of some sort.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • She put it on the floor and stooped forward, turning the vessel like a whirligig.

    The Central Eskimo Franz Boas
  • Time's whirligig has made him the hero of our puppet-shows, and he enjoys cosmopolitan celebrity under the name of Punch.

  • The whirligig of time had not yet revolved so as to bring us in our revenge.

    True Tales of Mountain Adventures Mrs. Aubrey Le Blond
  • Little Pixie tugged at her frock unheeded, and made himself a whirligig in chase of his own tail.

    Perlycross R. D. Blackmore
  • Touching his hat, he walked onwards, leaving my thoughts all in a whirligig.

    Johnny Ludlow, Sixth Series Mrs. Henry Wood
British Dictionary definitions for whirligig


any spinning toy, such as a top
another name for merry-go-round
anything that whirls about, spins, or moves in a circular or giddy way: the whirligig of social life
another name for windmill (sense 3)
Word Origin
C15: whirlegigge, from whirl + gig1
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 whirligig

mid-15c., a child's toy, from whirl (v.) + gig (see gig (n.1)). Meaning "anything in constant motion" is from 1580s; "fickle, flighty person" is from c.1600; as a type of water beetle, from 1713.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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