Definition of Catherine wheel in English:

Catherine wheel


  • 1A firework in the form of a flat coil which spins when fixed to something solid and lit.

    • ‘This means November 5 this year will be the last Guy Fawkes day in South Africa when people can let off crackers, rockets, Catherine wheels and the like.’
    • ‘By the end of the day we managed to acquire a substantial collection of rockets, Catherine wheels and sparklers.’
    • ‘Dick has now marched me outside once more for a look at his replica of the mighty Panjandrum, a sort of mobile Catherine wheel dreamt up by the boffins of the navy's Department of Miscellaneous Weapons during the Second World War.’
    • ‘They're not like they used to be, when children expected no more than a toffee apple and a Catherine wheel.’
    • ‘Next was a 2/6 box - as before with a couple of rockets, a few Catherine wheels and some Bangers.’
    • ‘Clark seems to be a one-off in exploring movement in so many different directions - a Catherine wheel of ideas.’
    • ‘But if we wish to avoid establishing a black market, and the sale of fireworks to the public is to continue, then let these be the sparklers, Catherine wheels and small rockets Mr Waller appears to favour.’
    • ‘When deployed, the engineless craft resembles a windmill or Catherine wheel, with two segmented reflective sails collecting light particles from the sun.’
    • ‘There were few occasions quite so exciting in my pre-drinking and clubbing youth as the flutter of sparks that erupted when I caught sight of the local stud at the other side of the fire or through the sparkle of a Catherine wheel.’
    • ‘Ironically, the champion of the less well off appears more of a damp squib than a Catherine wheel.’
    • ‘In the popular subconscious, a kind of autonomous dynamo located in Silicon Valley spins out IT innovations at an ever-accelerating pace, like a Catherine wheel.’
    • ‘Gangs of small boys gathered around little fizzing bombs, or lobbed Catherine wheels under the chairs of dozing grandparents.’
    • ‘The days of a few Roman candles and Catherine wheels going off in the back yard are long gone.’
    • ‘If you even think about going near the throttle, its front wheels light up like Catherine wheels and you go nowhere in a cloud of expensive Pirelli smoke.’
    • ‘The council employs experts for its displays and hundreds of fireworks not available for legal public sale can be seen, including giant Catherine wheels, confetti cannons and fizzing fountains.’
    1. 1.1Heraldry A wheel with curved spikes projecting around the circumference.


Late 16th century (as a heraldic term): named after St Catherine (see Catherine, St), with reference to her martyrdom.


Catherine wheel

/ˈkaθrɪn wiːl/