or pin wheel

[pin-hweel, -weel]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pinwheel

Historical Examples of pinwheel

  • 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.

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for pinwheel



another name for Catherine wheel (def. 1)
a cogwheel whose teeth are formed by small pins projecting either axially or radially from the rim of the wheel
US and 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 windmillAlso 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

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