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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Synonyms for pinwheel

Synonyms: Verb

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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 The Windsor Locks Library is offering a take-home craft kit for adults to make your own patriotic pinwheel for Independence Day., 18 June 2021 The toolkits, too, are filled with sensory items — including a pinwheel. Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News, 10 June 2021 Austin congressional districts look like a pinwheel. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, 13 May 2021 The pinwheel also wasn't the result of one artist's vision; it was painted over and retouched several times, the study found. Katie Hunt, CNN, 23 Nov. 2020 The Desert House, with five bedrooms and six bathrooms, is laid out like a pinwheel, with wings radiating from the central living and dining room. Rosemary Mcclure, Los Angeles Times, 9 Apr. 2021 As the skaters began gliding into a pinwheel formation for the finale, the gas came in contact with an electric popcorn machine. Matthew Glenesk, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Mar. 2021 That same storm will spread a pinwheel of white into southern Minnesota tomorrow, dropping 5-10 inch amounts from Austin and Mankato west to Worthington. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, 13 Mar. 2021 After four hours of collecting footage, Widder switched on the electronic jellyfish, which began its pinwheel light show. Ferris Jabr, Scientific American, 5 Aug. 2010 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, 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, 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,, 25 Dec. 2019 Some upper-level energy may move through the region, pinwheeling from the New England storm. Washington Post, 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, 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, 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., 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, 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 19 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for pinwheel



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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