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windmill

[wind-mil] /ˈwɪndˌmɪl/
noun
1.
any of various machines for grinding, pumping, etc., driven by the force of the wind acting upon a number of vanes or sails.
2.
(loosely) a wind generator; wind plant.
3.
Aeronautics. a small air turbine with blades, like those of an airplane propeller, exposed on a moving aircraft and driven by the air, used to operate gasoline pumps, radio apparatus, etc.
4.
an imaginary opponent, wrong, etc. (in allusion to Cervantes' Don Quixote):
to tilt at windmills.
verb (used without object), verb (used with object)
5.
Aeronautics. (of a propeller engine or turbojet engine) to rotate or cause to rotate solely under the force of a passing airstream.
Origin
1250-1300
1250-1300; Middle English; see wind1, mill1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for windmills

windmill

/ˈwɪndˌmɪl; ˈwɪnˌmɪl/
noun
1.
a machine for grinding or pumping driven by a set of adjustable vanes or sails that are caused to turn by the force of the wind
2.
the set of vanes or sails that drives such a mill
3.
(Brit) Also called whirligig. a toy consisting of plastic or paper vanes attached to a stick in such a manner that they revolve like the sails of a windmill US and Canadian name pinwheel
4.
an imaginary opponent or evil (esp in the phrase tilt at or fight windmills)
5.
a small air-driven propeller fitted to a light aircraft to drive auxiliary equipment Compare ram-air turbine
6.
an informal name for helicopter
7.
an informal name for propeller (sense 1)
verb
8.
to move or cause to move like the arms of a windmill
9.
an informal name for accommodation bill
10.
(intransitive) (of an aircraft propeller, rotor of a turbine, etc) to rotate as a result of the force of a current of air rather than under power
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for windmills
windmill
c.1300, from wind (n.) + mill. Cf. Ger. Windmühle, Du. windmolen, Fr. moulin à vent (13c.). Verb meaning "to swing the arms wildly" is recorded from 1927.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with windmills
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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