Definition of whirligig in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wərlēˌɡiɡ/


1A toy that spins around, for example, a top or a pinwheel.
Example sentences
  • From whirligigs to stereoscopes, from toy soldiers to toy kitchens, from horse-drawn fire engines to subway cars, the New York Historical Society houses many toys illustrative of their day and the children who played with them.
  • By 1988, when we devoted our February issue to the museum's holdings, its folk sculptures included carousel animals, whirligigs, weather vanes, decoys, trade signs, and some forty tobacconists' figures of all sizes and types.
  • For a few hours I was a kid again, reliving memories sparked by the dozens of puppets and paintings, quilts and carvings, weather vanes and whirligigs that combined my two earliest passions - baseball and art.
1.1 another term for merry-go-round.
Example sentences
  • One of those rotatory entertainments commonly seen in fairs, and known by the name of ‘whirligigs’ or ‘roundabouts’.
2 [in singular] A thing regarded as hectic or constantly changing: the whirligig of time
More example sentences
  • The piece is a political whirligig but also a play of ideas, about the politics of life as much as the life of politics, which also includes insights into two very different marriages.
  • A time-worn, singular figure, however, bears contrary witness to the whirligig of our global age fraught, as it is, with the fever of frantic speeds, appetites for expanding size, and the vanity of vast numbers.
  • Finally how fragile it is - choreography that is here today usually is gone tomorrow, lost in either the whirligig of fashion or the roulette-wheel of luck.
3 (also whirligig beetle) A small black predatory beetle that swims rapidly in circles on the surface of still or slow-moving water and dives when alarmed.
  • Family Gyrinidae: Gyrinus and other genera.
Example sentences
  • That's not wind on the water, it's gyrating whirligig beetles.


Late Middle English: from whirl + obsolete gig 'a top'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: whirl·i·gig

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