[ 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.

Nearby words

  1. whiptail wallaby,
  2. whipworm,
  3. whir,
  4. whirl,
  5. whirlabout,
  6. whirligig beetle,
  7. whirling dervish,
  8. whirlpool,
  9. whirlpool bath,
  10. whirlwind

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

British Dictionary definitions for whirligig


/ (ˈwɜːlɪˌɡɪɡ) /


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