One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A firework in the form of a flat coil which spins when fixed to something solid and lit.
- ‘By the end of the day we managed to acquire a substantial collection of rockets, Catherine wheels and sparklers.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Clark seems to be a one-off in exploring movement in so many different directions - a Catherine wheel of ideas.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Gangs of small boys gathered around little fizzing bombs, or lobbed Catherine wheels under the chairs of dozing grandparents.’
- ‘Ironically, the champion of the less well off appears more of a damp squib than a Catherine wheel.’
- ‘They're not like they used to be, when children expected no more than a toffee apple and a Catherine wheel.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Next was a 2/6 box - as before with a couple of rockets, a few Catherine wheels and some Bangers.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The days of a few Roman candles and Catherine wheels going off in the back yard are long gone.’
- ‘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.’
- 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.
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