whirl·​i·​gig | \ ˈ(h)wər-li-ˌgig How to pronounce whirligig (audio) \

Definition of whirligig

1 : a child's toy having a whirling motion
3a : one that continuously whirls, moves, or changes
b : a whirling or circling course (as of events)

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Did You Know?

English speakers, and particularly children, began spinning whirligigs as early as the 15th century. Since then, "whirligig" has acquired several meanings beyond its initial toy sense. It even has a place in the common name of the whirligig beetle, a member of the family Gyrinidae that swiftly swims in circles on the surface of still water. The word whirligig comes to us from Middle English "whirlegigg" ("whirling top"), which is itself from whirlen, meaning "to whirl," and gigg, meaning "(toy) top."

Examples of whirligig in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The hands-on, annual event engaged students in various activities, including basket weaving, tin punching and whirligig creations. cleveland, "Second-graders in Orange School District celebrate Pioneer Day," 27 Nov. 2020 The whirligig of literary reputation has brought about its own revenge, true to the Comic Spirit of irony that Meredith so often invoked. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, "An Undisappearing Act," 17 Nov. 2020 For another whirligig story in which a well-off family’s life is upended, see this stylized thriller from the Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos. Gabe Cohn, New York Times, "What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘Parasite’ and ‘Modern Family’," 8 Apr. 2020 The popularity of these whirligigs also corresponded to a new vogue for angel food cakes, which necessitated huge volumes of eggs to be beaten, the whites and the yolks separately. Ben Huberman, Longreads, "“Labor-Saving” Kitchen Gadgets End Up Creating More Work for Women," 3 Nov. 2019 An intense whirligig of tannins metallically attacked my mouth and, on the finish, there was an astringent sizzle, with undertones of acid reflux. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure," 7 Sep. 2019 Items in the museum include kites, masks, whirligigs, dolls, animal figures, rugs, paintings, carvings from wood and from recycled Styrofoam. Mary Jane Brewer, cleveland.com, "Private folk art museum opens in Medina County," 21 Aug. 2019 In memory, during that long-ago evening on the edge of the woods, even my young children were drawn into its whirligig of shipwrecks, twins in disguise, misread letters, wise foolery and foolish wisdom. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Twelfth Night’ Review: A Bland Transposition," 11 July 2019 Jesse Rieser for The Wall Street Journal Dennis Danzik has invented a whirligig that calls for the suspension of disbelief and the laws of physics. Dan Neil, WSJ, "One Man’s Unlikely Quest to Power the World With Magnets," 16 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whirligig.' 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 whirligig

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for whirligig

Middle English whirlegigg, from whirlen to whirl + gigg top — more at gig entry 4

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Time Traveler for whirligig

Time Traveler

The first known use of whirligig was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Whirligig.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whirligig. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for whirligig



English Language Learners Definition of whirligig

: a child's toy that spins rapidly

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