Whirl"i*gig (?), n. [Whirl + gig.]

1.

A child's toy, spun or whirled around like a wheel upon an axis, or like a top.

Johnson.

2.

Anything which whirls around, or in which persons or things are whirled about, as a frame with seats or wooden horses.

With a whirligig of jubilant mosquitoes spinning about each head. G. W. Cable.

3.

A mediaeval instrument for punishing petty offenders, being a kind of wooden cage turning on a pivot, in which the offender was whirled round with great velocity.

4. Zool.

Any one of numerous species of beetles belonging to Gyrinus and allied genera. The body is firm, oval or boatlike in form, and usually dark colored with a bronzelike luster. These beetles live mostly on the surface of water, and move about with great celerity in a gyrating, or circular, manner, but they are also able to dive and swim rapidly. The larva is aquatic. Called also weaver, whirlwig, and whirlwig beetle.

 

© Webster 1913.

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