wind-milling

windmill

[wind-mil]
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; Middle English; see wind1, mill1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
windmill (ˈwɪndˌmɪl, ˈwɪnˌmɪl)
 
n
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, US and Canadian name: pinwheel 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
4.  an imaginary opponent or evil (esp in the phrase tilt atorfight windmills)
5.  Compare ram-air turbine a small air-driven propeller fitted to a light aircraft to drive auxiliary equipment
6.  an informal name for helicopter
7.  an informal name for propeller
 
vb
8.  to move or cause to move like the arms of a windmill
9.  an informal name for accommodation bill
10.  (intr) (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 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

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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