Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chiefly British A thin, dried stalk of grass.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A grass used for making ropes or for plaiting, especially Agrostis Spica-ventis.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The old stalk of various grasses, as the tufted hair-grass, Deschampsia (Aira) cæspitosa, the dog's-tail, Cynosurus cristatus, or Apera (Agrostis) Spica-venti.
  • n. The whitethroat, Sylvia cinerea: same as jackstraw, 5.

Etymologies

Old English windelstrēaw : windel, basket (from windan, to wind) + strēaw, straw; see straw.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • My dear man of moods! my good vagabond! my windlestraw of circumstance! constant only to one ideal -- the unattainable perfection in a kind of roguish art.

    Doom Castle

  • I knew the windlestraw, Guy de Villehardouin, a raw young provincial, come up the first time to Court, but a fiery little cockerel for all of that.

    Chapter 11

  • But before I found them, I encountered a windlestraw which showed which way blew the wind and gave promise of a very gale.

    Chapter 11

  • The two men carried the chest along at a rate that perhaps came easily enough to Jim Lucky, who was a young giant of a seaman, but was astonishing for a thin, windlestraw of a man such as Glass.

    Poison Island

  • "Ai-ee!" cried the accused, still shielding his neck and cowering in the dust -- a thin ragged windlestraw of a youth, flaxen-headed, hatchet-faced, with eyes set like a hare's.

    Sir John Constantine Memoirs of His Adventures At Home and Abroad and Particularly in the Island of Corsica: Beginning with the Year 1756

  • But before I found them I encountered a windlestraw which showed which way blew the wind and gave promise of a very gale.

    The Jacket (Star-Rover)

  • "Lever it!" cried the gruff voice, "if you have the backbone of a windlestraw, lever!"

    The Dew of Their Youth

  • The sound of his pipe was like singing wasps, and like the wind that sings in windlestraw; and it took hold upon men's ears like the crying of gulls.

    Fables

  • They call their exercise a tournament, although in their whole exertions every blow is aimed behind the back, and not one has the courage to throw his windlestraw while he perceives that of another pointed against himself.”

    Count Robert of Paris

  • a windlestraw, while the horse of an omnibus, falling on the slippery asphalt, made a sort of dyke in front of Christophe, by which the opposing streams of carriages were dammed, so that for a few moments there was an impassable barrier.

    Jean Christophe: in Paris The Market-Place, Antoinette, the House

Comments

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  • It's a bird.

    January 5, 2012

  • A lovely word! Let's revive it!

    January 17, 2009

  • Somebody who is regarded as lacking in strength of character ( archaic or literary )

    January 17, 2009

  • windlestraw1. a withered stalk of any of various grasses.
    2. any of various long-stalked species of grass.
    3. any tall, thin person.
    4. any light or flimsy material or object.

    Also, esp. Scot., winlestrae.

    January 17, 2009

  • Etymology: Middle English *windelstraw, from Old English windelstrēaw, from windel- (akin to Middle English windel caulking material) + strēaw straw
    Date: Before 12th century

    January 17, 2009

  • A truly beautiful word.

    December 23, 2008

  • A person who is tall, thin and unhealthy looking

    December 16, 2008