A whirligig is an object that spins or whirls, or has at least one member that spins or whirls in the wind.

The word, derived from the verb to whirl, is known in English since 1440, originally for various spinning toys. [The "Oxford English Dictionary" cites the 1440 "Promptorium Parvulorum", the first English-Latin Dictionary, which contains the definition, "Whyrlegyge, chyldys game, "giraculum"."]

Since ancient times, a whirligig was a spinning punitive or torture contraption comprising a suspended cage-like device; see Whirligig (torture). [ [http://www.getchwood.com/punishments/curious/chapter-10.html#TOC11 Getchwood Curious punishments] .]

Modern whirligigs are generally decorative and entertaining, such as lawn ornaments and wind-powered hanging art.


*The U.S. granted a patent for a yo-yo like device called a "whirligig" in 1866. [Ohio Historical Society, 2005, [http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=2739 "Whirligig"] , Ohio History Central: An Online Encyclopedia of Ohio History.]
*Paul Fleischman's book "Whirligig" is about a teenage who builds whirligigs as a way to repay the mother of a girl he killed in a drunk driving accident.
*A "whirligig" can also refer to a very small whirling of air, like a micro-cyclone.
* In the game , a game set in a world filled with strange and dangerous phenomenon called anomalies, the "whirligig" is a lethal gravitational anomaly which drags people / mutants into the air and spins them at immeasurable speed until they disintegrate.
* The title of a play by American playwright Mac Wellman.
* The book Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, May's uncle, Ob, makes whirligigs.
* A whirligig appears as a vehicle in the Sony Playstation One game Spyro: Year of the Dragon.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whirligig — Whirl i*gig, n. [Whirl + gig.] [1913 Webster] 1. A child s toy, spun or whirled around like a wheel upon an axis, or like a top. Johnson. [1913 Webster] 2. Anything which whirls around, or in which persons or things are whirled about, as a frame… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • whirligig — ► NOUN 1) a toy that spins round, e.g. a top or windmill. 2) another term for ROUNDABOUT(Cf. ↑roundabout) (in sense 2). 3) (also whirligig beetle) a small black water beetle which typically swims rapidly in circles on the surface. ORIGIN from… …   English terms dictionary

  • whirligig — mid 15c., a child s toy, from WHIRL (Cf. whirl) (v.) + gig (see GIG (Cf. gig) (1)). Meaning anything in constant motion is from 1580s; fickle, flighty person is from c.1600; as a type of water beetle, from 1713 …   Etymology dictionary

  • whirligig — [hwʉrl′i gig΄, wʉrl′i gig΄] n. [ME whirlgigge: see WHIRL & GIG1] 1. a child s toy that whirls or spins, as a pinwheel 2. MERRY GO ROUND 3. something that seems to whirl, or revolve in a cycle 4. a whirling motion or …   English World dictionary

  • Whirligig — Segelschiffkarussel (Windspiel) Whirligig Kunsthandwerk …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • whirligig — noun 1》 a toy that spins round, e.g. a top or windmill. 2》 another term for roundabout (in sense 2). 3》 a process or activity characterized by constant change or hectic activity: the whirligig of time. 4》 (also whirligig beetle) a small black… …   English new terms dictionary

  • whirligig — UK [ˈwɜː(r)lɪˌɡɪɡ] / US [ˈwɜrlɪˌɡɪɡ] / US [ˈhwɜrlɪˌɡɪɡ] noun [countable] Word forms whirligig : singular whirligig plural whirligigs 1) a small toy that spins 2) literary anything that changes continuously …   English dictionary

  • whirligig — /hwerr li gig , werr /, n. 1. something that whirls or revolves. 2. a whirling motion or course: the whirligig of fashion. 3. a giddy or flighty person. 4. Dial. a merry go round or carrousel. 5. a toy for whirling or spinning, as a top. [1400… …   Universalium

  • whirligig — noun /ˈwɜː.lɪ.ɡɪɡ,ˈwɝ.lɪ.ɡɪɡ/ a) Anything that whirls or spins around, such as a toy top. b) A whirligig beetle …   Wiktionary

  • whirligig — n. 1 a spinning or whirling toy. 2 a merry go round. 3 a revolving motion. 4 anything regarded as hectic or constantly changing (the whirligig of time). 5 any freshwater beetle of the family Gyrinidae that circles about on the surface. Etymology …   Useful english dictionary

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