[hwur-li-gig, wur-]


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

First recorded in 1400–50, whirligig is from the late Middle English word whirlegigge. See whirl, gig1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whirligig

Historical Examples of whirligig

  • The fortunes these women have poured into this whirligig of chance will never be computed.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • She set it down and stooped forward, turning the bowl as if it were a whirligig.

    A Treasury of Eskimo Tales

    Clara Kern Bayliss

  • Don't you see that Time is a whirligig, and all things come round?

    Kenelm Chillingly, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

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

    In Doublet and Hose

    Lucy Foster Madison

  • She put it on the floor and stooped forward, turning the vessel like a whirligig.

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 waythe whirligig of social life
another name for windmill (def. 3)

Word Origin for whirligig

C15: whirlegigge, from whirl + gig 1
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 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