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 Martin made his own, highly ambitious (some might say impractical) sketches that featured bursts of fire, falling water and mechanical statues powered by a windmill. oregonlive, "Portland’s whimsical Weather Machine has been forecasting from Pioneer Courthouse Square since 1988," 11 Jan. 2020 But there’s so much more to me than just a windmill. Aili Nahas,, "The Bachelor's Peter Weber Doesn’t Want His Sex Life — or a Windmill! — to Define Him," 30 Dec. 2019 But there’s so much more to me than just a windmill. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The Bachelor's Peter Weber Opens Up About That Windmill Sex," 30 Dec. 2019 Visitors tour the stockade, the Russian Orthodox chapel and a windmill like the one used by the settlers. Graham Bowley, New York Times, "Oligarchs, as U.S. Arts Patrons, Present a Softer Image of Russia," 6 Oct. 2019 Old plantation windmills – some in ruins, others intact – still dot landscapes. USA Today, "Slavery reparations stir contentious debate. Why Brown and other universities are trying to make things right," 17 Dec. 2019 Weber then emerges from the animated windmill, rose in hand, with a smolder in his eyes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The Bachelor 2020: Of Course Peter Weber’s First Promo Includes a Windmill," 14 Nov. 2019 Expanding hydroelectricity and nuclear power would lessen the challenge of all those square kilometres of solar panels and millions of windmills. The Economist, "The past, present and future of climate change," 21 Sep. 2019 April 7, 201901:18 The American Cancer Society has rejected the claim that windmills or the sound of them cause cancer. NBC News, "President Donald Trump's 10 biggest false claims in 2019 — and one that finally became true," 31 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of windmill


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


1914, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about windmill

Time Traveler for windmill

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for windmill

Last Updated

12 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Windmill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for windmill


How to pronounce windmill (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!