wind·​mill | \ ˈwin(d)-ˌmil How to pronounce windmill (audio) \

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 Air guns wouldn’t really catch on in the New World, however, until the owner of a failing windmill company met with the inventor of an all-metal airgun. Joseph Albanese, Field & Stream, "How to Buy the Best Air Gun for Your Needs," 2 Mar. 2021 Dominguita, too, has a funny battle with a windmill. Washington Post, "Classic adventure stories inspire new Definitely Dominguita series," 2 Mar. 2021 And consider compromise that can bring most everyone to the table in agreement, rather than insisting on a quixotic sally into a windmill that might flip a body into the air and leave it to fall. Erik Sherman, Forbes, "The PRO Act Is Becoming Labor’s Amateur Hour," 2 Mar. 2021 For example, a windmill is a signature move that takes a lot of practice and strength. The Salt Lake Tribune, "New generation of Utahns finds power and pride through ‘breaking’ and hip hop culture," 25 Feb. 2021 One such post is mischaracterizing an old photo of a Swiss windmill de-icing procedure to question the sustainability of wind power. Devon Link, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Meme of wind turbine being de-iced includes 2015 image from Sweden," 19 Feb. 2021 The sound of gunfire cuts the sequence short, and Ivan awakens in a dark, menacing space, which turns out to be the interior of a windmill. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Drenching Richness of Andrei Tarkovsky," 8 Feb. 2021 The sleek windmill is designed to power a pump that sends water into a channel running through the building, an aspect that isn’t appreciable right now because the library is closed to the public because of the pandemic. Deborah Martin, San Antonio Express-News, "Take a public art tour of San Antonio's North Side parks, libraries and more," 2 Feb. 2021 Though wind speeds average a sedate 2.2 miles per hour, the thick atmosphere can still impart a good deal of force to the blades of a windmill. Adam Mann, Wired, "The Steampunk Rover Concept That Could Help Explore Venus," 15 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The town’s only grocery store is down the road, and beyond that, windmills tower over distant hills. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Jacksboro’s ‘lifeblood’ rural hospital feels abandoned during pandemic," 24 May 2020 But as batteries, solar panels, and windmills all continue to get cheaper and more efficient, that calculus should change. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "The story of cheaper batteries, from smartphones to Teslas," 22 May 2020 But has anyone in dunk-contest history snatched a pass one-handed, spun midair — keeping control of the ball — and windmilled it into the hoop with such vengeance? Phil Thompson,, "Makeover needed for NBA dunk contest after iffy ending," 16 Feb. 2020 Singer Roger Daltrey, windmilling guitarist Pete Townshend, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon were 15 years away from induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — which itself wasn’t even an idea at the time. Chuck Yarborough,, "Daltrey, Townshend bring the Who to Blossom with songs of ‘Quadrophenia’ and ‘Tommy,’ plus new music," 3 Sep. 2019 Look for the Pancakes & Waffles windmills in front of Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, "Here are the 10 best foods at the Indiana State Fair 2019," 7 Aug. 2019 From there, the Clippers’ front office, primarily president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank and GM Michael Winger, brought it home, as owner Steve Ballmer windmilled them around from the coach’s box, checkbook in hand. Jack Mccallum,, "A Clippers Summer: How L.A.’s ‘Other’ Team Stole the NBA Offseason," 9 July 2019 As the aircraft descends, which can also take around 20 minutes, the electric motor would run in reverse to act as a generator, turned by the windmilling propeller. The Economist, "Hybrid airliners could come to dominate the skies," 28 June 2019 Bryan, playing barefoot, occasionally windmilled his guitar. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really)," 6 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for windmill

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Windmill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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 How to pronounce windmill (audio) \

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

Nglish: Translation of windmill for Spanish Speakers

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

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