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

Smith garnered a perfect 50 for going between his legs in mid-air on a reverse dunk, and Oladipo's highlight was wearing a Black Panther mask for a behind-the-head, two-handed windmill. Joe Vardon,, "Donovan Mitchell edges Larry Nance in NBA Slam Dunk contest," 17 Feb. 2018 No matter how long the ride, though, a pit stop at the stunning sea of windmills is a must, to take in the view and snap photos, of course. Kellie Brown, Teen Vogue, "What to Pack for Spring Break According to Fashion Blogger Kellie Brown," 25 Mar. 2019 Critics of wind power note that windmills can have problems operating efficiently, thus forcing conventional backup generation units to cover the gaps. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Google And DeepMind Algorithms Could Make Wind Power More Efficient," 27 Feb. 2019 But building smart windmills could allow for costs to come down, which would make wind energy a more promising energy source around the country. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Google And DeepMind Algorithms Could Make Wind Power More Efficient," 27 Feb. 2019 Regulators should demarcate and auction aerial corridors—virtual highways in the sky—as government auctions radio spectrum and offshore windmill sites. Brent Skorup, WSJ, "Your Flying Car Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think," 15 Nov. 2018 The windmill has been transformed into a meditation chapel. Reif Larsen, The Seattle Times, "LA Reverential: A City’s Chill Spots," 1 Aug. 2018 Williams settled for the windmill — out of respect for his understated coach. Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News, "Aggies stun Tar Heels," 19 Mar. 2018 Ultimately things ended badly for the windmill, and hopefully no one was around to be hurt by the debris. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Flaming Windmill Spins a Serious Spiral of Smoke," 3 Aug. 2016

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

18 Jun 2019

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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 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

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

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