wind·​mill | \ˈwin(d)-ˌmil \

Definition of windmill 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a mill or machine operated by the wind usually acting on oblique vanes or sails that radiate from a horizontal shaft especially : a wind-driven water pump or electric generator

b : the wind-driven wheel of a windmill

2 : something that resembles or suggests a windmill especially : a calisthenic exercise that involves alternately lowering each outstretched hand to touch the toes of the opposite foot

3 [ from the episode in Don Quixote by Cervantes in which the hero attacks windmills under the illusion that they are giants ] : an imaginary wrong, evil, or opponent usually used in the phrase to tilt at windmills


windmilled; windmilling; windmills

Definition of windmill (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause to move like a windmill

intransitive verb

: to move like a windmill especially : to spin from the force of wind

Illustration of windmill

Illustration of windmill


windmill 1a

In the meaning defined above

Examples of windmill in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

There are suspects galore: the dead woman's strange-acting husband, a slick nightclub owner, and a rich real estate developer who wants (in an ultra-Scandinavian detail) to build a housing project powered entirely by windmills. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Which of These New TV International Thrillers Should You Binge?," 30 Aug. 2018 Walkers are still walkers, and for the most part, nothing has progressed meaningfully from an infrastructure standpoint, apart from the survivors building a windmill. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Walking Dead’s fresh start looks like a big step back," 12 Nov. 2018 The windmill was rescued from a nearby farm and stands inside one of the dining rooms with a secluded table inside. Shonda Talerico Dudlicek, Elgin Courier-News, "Guide to outdoor dining in Chicago suburbs: Port Edward in Algonquin," 7 July 2018 Government restrictions on carbon emissions have spawned a large renewable-energy industry specializing in solar panels and windmills. George Melloan, WSJ, "Pruitt Leaves a Proud Legacy at the EPA," 11 July 2018 An 18-foot-high elephant and a 17-foot-high windmill (both icons of the Moulin Rouge cabaret) flank the stage. Michael Paulson, New York Times, "Four Musicals on Three Continents: An Australian Company’s Big Bet," 5 July 2018 BOOK Sag Harbor is one of the most adorable East Coast towns out there, with its old school Hamptons appeal, iconic windmill, cute storefronts and more. Natasha Huang Smith, Harper's BAZAAR, "Your 2017 Hamptons Summer Guide," 14 July 2017 The rotation on the windmill was damn near elliptical in nature, and drew some worthy oohs from the crowd. Rohan Nadkarni,, "NBA Dunk Contest Grades: Donovan Mitchell Is Incredible While Dennis Smith Jr. Gets Robbed," 17 Feb. 2018 Within minutes, measured uppercuts and jabs gave way to aimless, windmill-style flailing. The Courier-Journal, "Danger in the cage: Lax regulation in amateur MMA puts lives at risk," 21 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Privacy - Terms Take a look: Here’s video, courtesy @astrait25, of Joel Embiid bouncing a ball off a dude’s face and then windmilling on his head at a park at 9th and South in Philly. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "Joel Embiid bounces ball off guy's face, dunks during pickup game in Philly," 28 May 2018 So Pollard was at center ice windmilling his arm and pumping his fists. Dakota Crawford, Indianapolis Star, "Watch Scot Pollard come heartbreakingly close to winning $50,000 for Indy's Julian Center," 15 Jan. 2018 Even with all of that prep, Cain was surprised to see Jirschele windmilling his arms. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Catch ’em while you can: Royals’ stars have one more stand in KC," 26 Sep. 2017 Pete Townshend is still windmilling on lead guitar, and Roger Daltrey powers through the lead vocals. Mel Shields, sacbee, "The Who has the cure for summertime blues at Harveys," 8 Aug. 2017

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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1914, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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Statistics for windmill

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for windmill

The first known use of windmill was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for windmill



English Language Learners Definition of windmill

: a structure that has parts which are turned around by the wind and that is used to produce power, pump water, etc.


wind·​mill | \ˈwind-ˌmil \

Kids Definition of windmill

: a mill or a machine (as for pumping water) worked by the wind turning sails or vanes at the top of a tower

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More from Merriam-Webster on windmill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with windmill

Spanish Central: Translation of windmill

Nglish: Translation of windmill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of windmill for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about windmill

Comments on windmill

What made you want to look up windmill? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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