Definition of windmill in English:



  • 1A building with sails or vanes that turn in the wind and generate power to grind corn into flour.

    • ‘Heedless of the curse, he put an upturned shaving bowl on his head for a helmet, climbed on his horse and rushed forward - only to plunge his lance into the sail of a windmill and be lifted from his saddle into clear air.’
    • ‘A beautiful landscape shows several traditional thatched huts, but they all sport the sails seen on windmills across Holland.’
    • ‘From the Middle Ages the tail vane of windmills, continuously steering the sails into the veering wind, are well-known early examples of guidance by feedback.’
    • ‘Visitors to Wiltshire's only working windmill have been warned that it is being targeted by thieves.’
    • ‘Jones picks up the trail again by noticing that although the wind is blowing in one direction, the sails on a nearby windmill are moving in the opposite direction - it's a signal to a circling airplane.’
    • ‘Once the grain has been threshed from the sheaves of locally grown organic wheat it will be turned into flour in the windmill, and that in turn will be turned into bread all in the one day.’
    • ‘From the seventh century on, peasants designed and built adobe horizontal-vaned windmills to harness the wind power and grind wheat into flour.’
    • ‘One of the most popular photographs is the one of the windmill at the Windmill Hill business park.’
    • ‘Seven corn windmills were working in the district by 1614.’
    • ‘Clocks told the time, windmills ground corn, cranes lifted things and so on.’
    • ‘Using ancient technology unique to the region, windmills grind the wheat harvested in June through September, the windy period during which wind speeds can get as high as 100 mph.’
    • ‘Lighthouses, for instance, have a certain romance about them, and Dutch windmills are considered highly picturesque.’
    • ‘Listening to the dialogue between the wind and the windmill produced a feeling of old fashioned romance.’
    • ‘On either side of her rose hills covered with vineyards and the gently rotating white sails of the windmills used for crushing grapes.’
    • ‘When soldiers returning from the Crusades introduced wind technology to Europe in the eleventh century, the windmill helped usher in the Industrial Revolution.’
    • ‘As a patrician of Dordrecht and a patriot, he paid homage to Holland as a trim and handsome place where even the windmills rotated their sails with a Sunday sobriety; much as his contemporary Teniers depicted Flanders.’
    • ‘He gave himself the credit for every good thing, without any recognition to the other animals, such as the building of the windmill, and the victory of the Battle of the Windmill.’
    • ‘Fittingly the book ends with York's only surviving windmill, Holgate Mill.’
    • ‘In the past windmills were used to grind corn into flour.’
    • ‘A tourist boat putters by in the canal; the sails of the huge windmill overhead cast long, cool shadows across the road.’
    1. 1.1 A structure using wind to generate electricity or draw water.
      • ‘I am sure he would have dealt with the evils of nuclear power and the need to convert now to windmills.’
      • ‘And a windmill stood at the junction of Glen Road and Harcourt Street in 1850.’
      • ‘Why is that not to be taken into account, yet building a windmill is?’
      • ‘Well, at the turn of the last century there were more wind turbines in the form of windmills than there are wind turbines at the moment, and they were a natural part of the landscape.’
      • ‘He was an outstanding engineer who advised on building windmills, locks and ports.’
      • ‘There is a huge bridge stretching to Denmark, and giant windmills turning in the middle of the sea.’
      • ‘As we calculated when we were in Waitaki the other week, it would take something like 5,000 windmills to generate the power that Project Aqua will generate.’
      • ‘Conditions were even unfavorable for the large-scale use of wind power, though some windmills were established.’
      • ‘But on the Exhibition Place grounds, the first windmill stands tall.’
      • ‘It consists of 450 windmills with sufficient capacity to power 70,000 homes.’
      • ‘I certainly hope the records kept of State-owned enterprises will show a good deal about windmills, power, and the role of State-owned enterprises in generating the energy of this country.’
      • ‘As early as 1885 windmills generated electrical power.’
      • ‘No government or private firm would build a windmill in Toronto, so the people did.’
      • ‘I know George would probably respond that we should reduce economic growth instead of building windmills, but there are two problems here.’
      • ‘In contrast, a short distance away from Scott's hut was a modern demountable base with a humming windmill harnessing the vast wind power of the region.’
      • ‘Two reclaimed strip coal mines in Somerset County are now dotted with windmills that produce pollution-free power.’
      • ‘Will the Greens support the transmission lines to take the power from the windmills down the ridge - big, ugly, lengthy transmission lines right on the ridge top?’
      • ‘Another concern for us when building windmills in Fengxian is the local tourism industry.’
      • ‘As a young married man, my grandfather traveled around West Texas building windmills for a living.’
      • ‘Six million windmills were built across the U.S. between 1850 and 1970.’
    2. 1.2British A toy consisting of a stick with curved vanes attached that turn in the wind.
      • ‘The second grave in the children's burial plot has been fenced off into a shrine and personalised with a pot cherub, dried flowers and child's handheld windmill.’
      • ‘Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for the Ribble Valley, returned to his cottage in Pendleton to find the windmill glued to a long bamboo pole and stuck in a flower pot on his patio.’
      • ‘Children's plastic windmills, stuck in the ground around the same area, are also said to do the trick.’
      • ‘The Geordie Ambassador turned up on his Marshall plan tractor and lifted potatoes with a whirling device not wholly unlike the windmills on a stick popular with infants and tourists.’
      • ‘I still havn't set up my daughter's windmill.’
      • ‘He tempted the children with goldfish, balloons, windmills, cheap toys and a few coppers to bring him rags, but some of the rags they brought him were still being used.’
      • ‘He said other ‘silent’ bird deterrent methods were used on the farm, including windmills, scarecrows, plastic bags on string, humming wire and flashing lights.’


  • 1(with reference to a person's arms) move or be moved round in a circle in a manner suggestive of the rotating sails or vanes of a windmill.

    with object ‘Penny slipped, windmilled her arms, and somehow kept her balance’
    • ‘My first impulse is to get off my toes and stand flat-footed, but as soon as I try that, I begin to fall, windmilling my arms as fast as I can to steady myself, but the motion is hindered by my wings, which crush under my weight on impact.’
    • ‘I did, but that put me too close to a house whose wall was emblazoned with yet another do not touch sign, prompting me to windmill my arms and hop to the opposite side of the path.’
    • ‘Elegant and vigorous, Godden's choreography had the dancers drawing imaginary lines in front of their faces, windmilling their arms at one another, walking backward, and snaking along the back wall.’
    • ‘She hopped back away from it, windmilling her arms once to catch her balance.’
    • ‘He majorette-pranced onto fields while windmilling his arms to pump up the crowd.’
    • ‘You place your hand on his forehead, thinking Napoleon is going to look awful silly windmilling his arms while you yawn safely out of reach.’
    • ‘Razzaq windmilled his arms, and Inzamam-ul-Haq came, a wide smile painted on his face, and lifted him up.’
    • ‘While the introductions were being given, he windmilled his right arm, like David getting ready to smite Goliath with a sling.’
    • ‘I try and windmill my arms, but they are caught in something.’
    • ‘The first turn threw him, causing his arms to windmill, but Eric regained his balance and fell into another knock-kneed arc.’
    • ‘‘The louder the better,’ I said, sitting up to windmill my arm across the strings of an imaginary guitar.’
    • ‘In the seventh round, Leonard did 3 minutes of taunting, offering his wide-eyed face as a stationary target, throwing a jab while windmilling his right arm, a hip shimmy here, an Ali shuffle there.’
    • ‘His tiny arms windmill in the air and he starts to fall, but I catch him with my prehensile tail, barely hard enough to cut into his clothes.’
    • ‘She flung out her arms, accidentally knocking Nishair on the nose, who fell back and stepped on Riviara's toes who stumbled back and tried to look dignified while windmilling her arms around.’
    • ‘An avant-garde version of Ashlee Simpson, Thomas alternated between banshee wails and guttural growls to pre-recorded noise, while windmilling her arm to sometimes strike the strings of her guitar.’
    • ‘Williams windmilled his arm before crossing the plate, and as the Yankee dugout, led by Jeter, spilled onto the field, Matsui followed him home.’
    wave, swing, thrash about, flap about, beat about, move erratically
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1no object (of the propeller or rotor of an aircraft, or the aircraft itself) spin unpowered.
      • ‘So we cut off the mag switches, gas supply, and mixture control and let the prop windmill - it was the best we could do in that situation.’
      • ‘Almost immediately the engine cut, but continued to windmill.’
      • ‘Because I didn't want to start a fire, that's where the lever remained with one problem: The propeller was windmilling, and my energy state was deteriorating as quickly as the engine was.’
      • ‘At the same time, the copilot said the right propeller still was windmilling, very slowly.’
      • ‘The approach to landing was unusual because what would be considered normal power corrections for speed and rate of descent were insufficient because of the increased drag - courtesy of our windmilling prop.’
      • ‘Cause of failure on engine No.1 and its windmilling prop was later estimated to be due to a master rod bearing breakdown while problems with No.4 resulted from a failure in the impeller drive gear train.’
      • ‘The number one prop was windmilling even more slowly now.’
      • ‘Since the engine did not seize, windmilling hydraulics provided ample hydraulic pressure to the outboard spoilers, minimizing the control problem of an outboard engine being shut down.’
      • ‘I looked over my shoulder at the prop - it was windmilling and provided nothing in the way of forward thrust.’
      • ‘As he entered the weather and slowed down for the instrument approach, the hydraulic system began cycling valves and reverting to backup systems due to the decay of windmilling RPM on the number two engine.’
      • ‘After shutting off the cross-feed, No.4 engine resumed its steady operation while the other three dead engine propellers were windmilling.’
      • ‘The engine shut down, and the propeller continued to windmill.’
      • ‘We also discussed descending into the VFR delta pattern over Whidbey Island to minimize the amount of time the motor would be windmilling following shutdown.’
      • ‘This is compounded during descents and glides when the throttle is closed or nearly closed, and the engine is windmilling above the normal rpm for the throttle setting.’
      • ‘With the gear warning horn blaring and the prop windmilling, we continued gliding toward the airport with the stall warning horn intermittently chiming in.’


  • fling (or throw) one's cap over the windmill(s)

    • dated Act recklessly or unconventionally.