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October 23, 2022

Whirligig / noun / ˈ(h)wərlēˌɡiɡ/

The term whirligig is a noun in the English language with a few meanings. The most common use of the word is to refer to children's toys. A whirligig would be any toy that spins in circles or “whirls” around. Merry-go-rounds, spinning tops, and pinwheels are examples of whirligigs.

A whirligig is also a type of beetle found swimming atop lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. The whirligig beetle is a member of the water beetle family.

A third use of the word whirligig refers to an ancient torture machine. The machine was built as a wooden cage that would spin its captors relentlessly in a circle.

In a Sentence

The prisoner feared for his life when they put him inside the Whirligig.

Timothy begged his mother to buy him the brightly colored whirligig at the toy store.

The Whirligig Beetle will swim underwater when it detects a nearby threat.


The first recorded use of the word "whirligig" was in the 15th century. It was recorded in Middle English as "whirligegg" from "whirlen." Eventually, it was shortened to "whirl" and added the word "gig" to create the term used today.


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