windmill

[wind-mil]

noun

any of various machines for grinding, pumping, etc., driven by the force of the wind acting upon a number of vanes or sails.
Aeronautics. a small air turbine with blades, like those of an airplane propeller, exposed on a moving aircraft and driven by the air, used to operate gasoline pumps, radio apparatus, etc.
an imaginary opponent, wrong, etc. (in allusion to Cervantes' Don Quixote): to tilt at windmills.

verb (used with or without object)

Aeronautics. (of a propeller engine or turbojet engine) to rotate or cause to rotate solely under the force of a passing airstream.

Nearby words

  1. windlass,
  2. windle,
  3. windless,
  4. windlessly,
  5. windlestraw,
  6. windmill grass,
  7. windom peak,
  8. window,
  9. window back,
  10. window blind

Origin of windmill

Middle English word dating back to 1250–1300; see origin at wind1, mill1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for windmill


British Dictionary definitions for windmill

windmill

noun

a machine for grinding or pumping driven by a set of adjustable vanes or sails that are caused to turn by the force of the wind
the set of vanes or sails that drives such a mill
Also called: whirligig British a toy consisting of plastic or paper vanes attached to a stick in such a manner that they revolve like the sails of a windmillUS and Canadian name: pinwheel
an imaginary opponent or evil (esp in the phrase tilt at or fight windmills)
a small air-driven propeller fitted to a light aircraft to drive auxiliary equipmentCompare ram-air turbine
an informal name for helicopter
an informal name for propeller (def. 1)

verb

to move or cause to move like the arms of a windmill
an informal name for accommodation bill
(intr) (of an aircraft propeller, rotor of a turbine, etc) to rotate as a result of the force of a current of air rather than under power
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 windmill

windmill

n.

c.1300, from wind (n.1) + mill (n.). Cf. German Windmühle, Dutch windmolen, French moulin à vent (13c.). Verb meaning "to swing the arms wildly" is recorded from 1927.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with windmill

windmill

see tilt at windmills.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.