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wind·​mill ˈwin(d)-ˌmil How to pronounce windmill (audio)
: 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
: the wind-driven wheel of a windmill
: 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
[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

Illustration of windmill

Illustration of windmill
  • windmill 1a


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windmilled; windmilling; windmills

transitive verb

: to cause to move like a windmill

intransitive verb

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

Examples of windmill in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The package additionally showed an angel, a windmill and an eye on a box. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 9 Nov. 2023 On the website, pictures of the theoretical city, which are almost certainly AI-generated (check out the sun setting in front of a mountain), show a sunny green town sitting amid rolling hills, farms, and windmills. Wes Davis, The Verge, 3 Sep. 2023 Donkey Hodie lives in a windmill just like the one her grandfather built all those years ago. Los Angeles Times, 7 Aug. 2023 Check Out the Museums Step back in time to Frisco's past at the Frisco Heritage Museum, where exhibits include pioneer items such as a log cabin, schoolhouse, old jail, a steam locomotive and caboose, Gaby's Blacksmith Shop, the Frisco Railroad Depot, historic homes, and even a windmill. Amanda Ogle, Southern Living, 12 Sep. 2023 Make a side trip to nearby Solvang, which is modeled after an old Danish town, with a windmill, plus wineries and beautiful scenery. Claire Trageser, Travel + Leisure, 16 Aug. 2023 But the debate about windmills, cancer, and birds even precedes the Biden/Trump rivalry. Haisten Willis, Washington Examiner, 20 July 2023 The next several months are likely to reveal whether Warner Bros. Discovery is tilting at windmills. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 5 June 2023 Visitors can still see the remains of salt ponds and windmills today. Lindsay Cohn, Travel + Leisure, 9 May 2023
All the same, Antonoff wears muscle shirts onstage and jumps off stacks of amps and pumps his fist in the air and plays windmill chords on his Gretsch Princess guitar. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 The young center fielder stepped out of the batter’s box, grabbing at her shoulder, trying to windmill her arm in tiny circles. Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2022 On his first dunk, Green relied on Rockets rookie teammate Josh Christopher to deliver a pass to him off the side of the backboard while Green raced down the baseline, attempted to catch the ball, put it between his legs then windmill it home. Matt Young, Chron, 19 Feb. 2022 The town’s only grocery store is down the road, and beyond that, windmills tower over distant hills. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, 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, 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,, 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,, 3 Sep. 2019 Look for the Pancakes & Waffles windmills in front of Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Liz Biro, Indianapolis Star, 7 Aug. 2019 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'windmill.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


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


1914, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near windmill

Cite this Entry

“Windmill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on windmill

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