pin·​wheel | \ ˈpin-ˌ(h)wēl How to pronounce pinwheel (audio) \

Definition of pinwheel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a fireworks device in the form of a revolving wheel of colored fire
2 : a toy consisting of lightweight vanes that revolve at the end of a stick
3 : something (such as a galaxy) shaped like a pinwheel


pinwheeled; pinwheeling; pinwheels

Definition of pinwheel (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move like a pinwheel

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Examples of pinwheel in a Sentence

Verb the kayaker had got sucked into the whirlpool, and his kayak was pinwheeling helplessly
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And since the new update is centered around memories, Google also updated its app icon to resemble a pinwheel — clearly inspired by childhood, youth, and nostalgia. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "Google Redesigned Its Photo App so It’s Easier Than Ever to Find Your Favorite Memories," 9 July 2020 But the Oregon Health Authority is at the center of the bureaucratic pinwheel that is Oregon’s coronavirus response. oregonlive, "Oregon braces for possible coronavirus epidemic," 29 Feb. 2020 The City edition version hoodie from Nike features a cream color base with a large pinwheel on the chest. Tim Brown, oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers ‘City’ jerseys, more cream-colored fan gear now available online, in stores," 3 Dec. 2019 Acanthus leaves fluttered up the balustrade in tight pinwheels, curling around seed pods glistening with ripe fruit. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art Orders the Full English," 24 Feb. 2020 Below the dogwood’s pinwheel white blossoms, face up with oxygen petals, twigs, grass, yarn lie disassembled. Diane Mehta, The New Yorker, "Bunches of a Nest," 24 Feb. 2020 Our galaxy swirls in mysterious, often puzzling ways. Starfish-like arms of dust and stars extending tens of thousands of light years spiral together as the entire disk pinwheels. Charlie Wood, Popular Science, "The biggest gaseous structure in our galaxy is filled with baby star factories," 8 Jan. 2020 As my sight adjusted, shapes emerged: subtle whorls that resembled a pinwheel twirling through countless pinpricks of light. Erin E. Williams, Twin Cities, "A window to the universe is open in Oregon," 24 Sep. 2019 As my sight adjusted, shapes emerged: subtle whorls that resembled a pinwheel twirling through countless pinpricks of light. Erin E. Williams, Twin Cities, "A window to the universe is open in Oregon," 24 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some of the outer rain bands and a few storms from Beta will pinwheel into the area from the east and southeast. Dallas News, "NBC 5 Forecast - A Sun-sational Sunday Ahead!," 20 Sep. 2020 Observations of pinwheeling galaxies suggested that scaffolds of invisible matter held their stars together, while a repulsive form of energy drove galaxies apart. Quanta Magazine, "How Ancient Light Reveals the Universe’s Contents," 28 Jan. 2020 The man in the white vest pinwheeled his arms, ushering volunteers through the pick-up line outside the Salvation Army Community Center on Fourth Street with military precision. Lizzie Johnson,, "Warriors for the win: Salvation Army volunteers feed SF’s bed-bound on Christmas," 25 Dec. 2019 Some upper-level energy may move through the region, pinwheeling from the New England storm. Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Breezy and cool today, with some patchy frost possible in outer suburbs tonight," 18 Oct. 2019 According to the space agency, IC 2051 is a spiral galaxy, noticeable in its whirling, pinwheeling arms and a bar of stars cutting through its center. Fox News, "NASA's Hubble spots stunning 'pinwheeling' galaxy," 23 Dec. 2019 The result is a vertiginous nausea that sends me pinwheeling toward the bathroom, though the men still breathe at a decibel level loud enough to permeate its heavy chestnut door. Barrett Swanson, Harper's magazine, "Men at Work," 28 Oct. 2019 Neo-Romantic melodies in the strings danced opposite pinwheeling exclamations in the woodwinds, and sharp ice replaced all the usual subtle sweetness of Elizabeth Rowe’s flute., "Guest conductor Dima Slobodeniouk leads the BSO to walk less traveled paths - The Boston Globe," 12 Oct. 2019 Behind them was a coal black foal, who pinwheeled his legs under the water, swimming like a seal after his mother. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Following in the Wake of a Storybook Pony," 8 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pinwheel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pinwheel


1765, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1907, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for pinwheel

Time Traveler

The first known use of pinwheel was in 1765

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Cite this Entry

“Pinwheel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for pinwheel


How to pronounce pinwheel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of pinwheel

: a toy that has a set of thin blades that are arranged like a fan on the end of a stick and that spin like a wheel when air is blown on them
: a type of firework that spins like a wheel


pin·​wheel | \ ˈpin-ˌhwēl How to pronounce pinwheel (audio) , -ˌwēl \

Kids Definition of pinwheel

: a toy with fanlike blades at the end of a stick that spin in the wind

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