from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A toy consisting of vanes of colored paper or plastic pinned to a stick so that they revolve when blown on.
  • noun A firework that forms a rotating wheel of colored flames.
  • noun A wheel with a circle of pins at right angles to its face, used as a tripping device.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A contrate wheel in which the cogs are pins set into the disk.
  • noun In tanning, a stout circular box containing warm water or water and melted tallow, in which hides are rolled about over strong wooden pins fastened to the inner circumference of the box.
  • noun A kind of firework, consisting of a long paper case filled with a combustible composition and wound spirally about a disk of pasteboard or wood. When it is supported vertically on a pivot, and ignited, it revolves rapidly, forming a wheel of fire.
  • In tanning, to subject to the action of the pinwheel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a fake flower with the stump, usually in plastic, for children; the flower spins round in the wind.
  • noun a firework which forms a kind of spinning wheel
  • noun A cogged (toothed) gear.
  • verb To spin.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a toy consisting of vanes of colored paper or plastic that is pinned to a stick and spins when it is pointed into the wind
  • noun a wheel that has numerous pins that are set at right angles to its rim
  • noun perennial subshrub of Tenerife having leaves in rosettes resembling pinwheels
  • noun a circular firework that spins round and round emitting colored fire


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • But Ginny, out of character for her, offered a bribe: A brightly colored pinwheel from a nearby stand.

    MORE FROM GINNY BATES -- LIFE WITH SMALL CHILDREN, 1991 TO 1993 Maggie Jochild 2007

  • April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the pinwheel will be the symbol used to represent the effort to increase awareness, Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge said. - News 2009

  • I, a rootless cosmopolitan and a linguist to boot which means I have no trustworthy native-speaker intuitions, think I say "pinwheel," but the subject comes up so rarely I can't be sure; at any rate, it sounds more familiar to me. MARVIN. 2005

  • Survivors say the Marines were surrounded in a "pinwheel" ambush as machine-gun fire and grenades rained down and the enemy closed in on the

    Jakovac, John A. 1967

  • The architects argue that this move is a desire to build the tower as a more contextual building that preserves I.M. Pei's "pinwheel" design, which allows each of the current three buildings to have site lines from and toward the buildings 'façades. N.Y.U.'

    All Stories | The New York Observer 2010

  • Like a Genki Dama. (laughs) - In the footage that has been released, Juri shows off an impressive "pinwheel" move, what was the idea behind that?

    IGN PS3 2009

  • It's ground-hugging horizontality reaching for the horizon; the entrance that 'winds in' to the centre of the house; the low sheltering roofs springing from the central vertical core; the 'pinwheel' spaces revolving out around the hearth ... this was a revolutionary new form of space and domestic architecture not seen before, patterns that would be seen in most of his 'Prairie Houses' for the next ten years.

    Not PC 2008

  • He speaks soothingly to me in Italian, smoothes my hair and drops a peppermint pinwheel onto the pages of my open Speller.

    Sister MaryAnne Kolton 2011

  • HAL gets overtaken by the “please hold” Apple pinwheel, HAL engages in a blinking contest with AUTO from WALL*E, HAL gets a makeover from Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash …

    HAL 9000 vs. IBM 7094: Which 'Daisy' is creepier? | 2009

  • Put that packet of salmon back in the fridge: royal wedding canapés were local and seasonal, without a smoked salmon pinwheel in sight.

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