One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An experimental or educational device comprising a container which can be filled with steam or other heated vapour which escapes through one or more narrow apertures with sufficient force to cause the container to rotate.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Walter Charleton (1620–1707), physician and natural philosopher. From French éolipile, eolipyle, † aeolipyle from classical Latin Aeolī pilae pneumatic mechanism or toy, lit. ‘doorway of Aeolus’ (Vitruvius 1. 6) from Aeolī, genitive of Aeolus + pilae (from ancient Greek πύλαι, plural of πύλη gate: see -pyle), so called on account of the fact that the vapour bursts from the opening like the winds from the opened door of the cave of Aeolus. With the some forms compare -o-, and also Middle French (rare) aeolopile and (with later use) German Aeolopile.
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