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whirligig

[hwur-li-gig, wur-] /ˈʰwɜr lɪˌgɪg, ˈwɜr-/
noun
1.
something that whirls or revolves.
2.
a whirling motion or course:
the whirligig of fashion.
3.
a giddy or flighty person.
4.
Dialect. a merry-go-round or carrousel.
5.
a toy for whirling or spinning, as a top.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English whirlegigge. See whirl, gig1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for whirligig
  • whirligig beetles normally live on the surface of the water and swim rapidly in circles when disturbed.
  • whirligig beetles make erratic patterns on the surface.
  • The whirligig beetle's eyes focus both above and below water level to help it find prey at the water's surface.
  • The interior is often painted with humans or animals in simplified geometric forms arranged in circular or whirligig compositions.
  • Named after the whirligig beetle that swims about quickly in the water.
British Dictionary definitions for whirligig

whirligig

/ˈwɜːlɪˌɡɪɡ/
noun
1.
any spinning toy, such as a top
2.
another name for merry-go-round
3.
anything that whirls about, spins, or moves in a circular or giddy way: the whirligig of social life
4.
another name for windmill (sense 3)
Word Origin
C15: whirlegigge, from whirl + gig1
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 whirligig
n.

mid-15c., a child's toy, from whirl (v.) + gig (see gig (n.1)). Meaning "anything in constant motion" is from 1580s; "fickle, flighty person" is from c.1600; as a type of water beetle, from 1713.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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