Definition of windmill in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwin(d)mēl/


Image of windmill
1A building with sails or vanes that turn in the wind and generate power to grind grain into flour.
Example sentences
  • In the past windmills were used to grind corn into flour.
  • Clocks told the time, windmills ground corn, cranes lifted things and so on.
  • From the seventh century on, peasants designed and built adobe horizontal-vaned windmills to harness the wind power and grind wheat into flour.
1.1A structure using wind to generate electricity or draw water.
Example sentences
  • Why is that not to be taken into account, yet building a windmill is?
  • Six million windmills were built across the U.S. between 1850 and 1970.
  • No government or private firm would build a windmill in Toronto, so the people did.
1.2British A pinwheel.
Example sentences
  • The second grave in the children's burial plot has been fenced off into a shrine and personalised with a pot cherub, dried flowers and child's handheld windmill.
  • I still havn't set up my daughter's windmill.


1(With reference to a person’s arms) move or be moved around in a circle in a manner suggestive of the rotating sails or vanes of a windmill.
Example sentences
  • An avant-garde version of Ashlee Simpson, Thomas alternated between banshee wails and guttural growls to pre-recorded noise, while windmilling her arm to sometimes strike the strings of her guitar.
  • My first impulse is to get off my toes and stand flat-footed, but as soon as I try that, I begin to fall, windmilling my arms as fast as I can to steady myself, but the motion is hindered by my wings, which crush under my weight on impact.
  • Razzaq windmilled his arms, and Inzamam-ul-Haq came, a wide smile painted on his face, and lifted him up.
1.1 [no object] (Of the propeller or rotor of an aircraft, or the aircraft itself) spin unpowered.
Example sentences
  • After shutting off the cross-feed, No.4 engine resumed its steady operation while the other three dead engine propellers were windmilling.
  • Because I didn't want to start a fire, that's where the lever remained with one problem: The propeller was windmilling, and my energy state was deteriorating as quickly as the engine was.
  • This is compounded during descents and glides when the throttle is closed or nearly closed, and the engine is windmilling above the normal rpm for the throttle setting.


tilt at windmills

see tilt.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wind·mill

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