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 In its simplicity, the windmill remains relevant through refinement. Reed Anfinson, Star Tribune, 25 June 2021 Founded in 1847 by Dutch immigrants, this idyllic community comes complete with its own downtown canal, 134-foot windmill, and Jaarsma Bakery, a cozy pastry shop that specializes in Dutch sweets. Jared Ranahan, Forbes, 24 June 2021 One that is cool to the touch, sturdy, and can spin like a windmill during a ferocious game of flip cup. Danielle Bernabe, Fortune, 14 June 2021 Originally, the shaft was used to mill grain, thus a windmill. WSJ, 11 June 2021 As the film fades in, a sad John Leguizamo (dressed as a Pierrot clown) is perched in front of a windmill. Stephanie Bencin, Vulture, 13 May 2021 Rather than charge at the windmill that is Trump's total dominance of the current GOP, Cheney is hopping off her horse voluntarily. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 6 May 2021 One afternoon when Don DuPay was 9 years old, his mother frantically called him out to the windmill on the family’s Montana farm. oregonlive, 3 May 2021 Private homes were damaged in the fire, as well as the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and historical structures such as the Mostert's Hill windmill, according to Satgoor. Sarah Dean, CNN, 19 Apr. 2021 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, 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 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,, 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, 28 June 2019 Bryan, playing barefoot, occasionally windmilled his guitar. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, 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

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

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Last Updated

4 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Windmill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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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

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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