One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1An instrument consisting of a wheel with a handle by which it may be rolled along the ground to measure distances on foot; a measuring wheel.
2A large vertical wheel which is turned by people or animals walking on the inner or outer rim, used as a source of mechanical power; a treadwheel. Compare "treadmill". Now historical.
Early 18th century. From walking + wheel.
walking wheel/ˈwɔːkɪŋ ˌwiːl/
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