windmill


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.

windmill,

apparatus that harnesses wind power for a variety of uses, e.g., pumping water, grinding corn, driving small sawmills, and driving electrical generators. Windmills were probably not known in Europe before the 12th cent., but thereafter they became familiar landmarks in Holland, England, France, and Germany. The typical Dutch windmill, also called the tower type, has a huge tower of stone, brick, or wood, in contrast to the German, or post, mill, the distinctive feature of which is that the whole building revolves on a central post. At the top of either type there is a revolving apparatus to which four to six arms are attached. The arms, usually 20 to 40 ft (6–12 m) long, bear sails constructed of light wood, or of canvas attached to a frame. A small fan serves as a rudder to keep the wheel facing the wind.

More modern American windmills have high towers of light steel girders; at the top is a wheel with many sheet-metal concave and "warped" vanes (sails) about 4 ft (1.2 m) long. The wheel is kept automatically facing the wind by a broad tail geared to a shaft. They have been widely used for pumping water in rural parts of the United States. Such windmills can also be used to generate about one kilowatt of elecricity.

Larger windmills, such as the modern propellerlike wind turbines, can have rotors (the blade assembly) that span 200 ft (60 m) or more. These wind turbines, often joined together in wind farms, can produce 1.5 MW or more of electricity and can serve as a significant source of electric energy in plains. coastal areas (including offshore locations, either on supports rising from the seafloor or on floating platforms anchored to the seafloor), and elsewhere. Wind turbines have been most extensively used in Europe, where Denmark, for example, is undertaking to generate 50% of its electricty using wind power by 2030. By 2018, wind turbines represented 18% of the installed energy generating capacity in the European Union, and provided 14% of the electricity demand. Thousands of small wind turbines are used in Inner Mongolia to provide local electric power to nomadic people.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Windmill

A tower structure with wind-powered vanes connected by a rotating shaft to a pump or generator for pumping water and generating electricity.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved

windmill

[′win‚mil]
(mechanical engineering)
Any of various mechanisms, such as a mill, pump, or electric generator, operated by the force of wind against vanes or sails radiating about a horizontal shaft.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

windmill

A large machine in which the wind acts on a number of vanes or blades, rotating them about an axis, thereby producing mechanical power; once widely used for grinding grain, sawing timber, and pumping water. The earliest windmills in America (similar to those in the Netherlands) had four very large, slowly moving blades that were cloth-covered, and required the constant attendance of an operator. In 1854, a patent was issued for an entirely new type of windmill, having a large number of small blades, which was self-regulating and could operate without human intervention; this feature greatly increased its practical application, especially for pumping water. In the latter part of the 20th century, large two-bladed windmills have been assembled in large groups called “farms” for the environment-friendly generation of electrical power.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

windmill

1. a machine for grinding or pumping driven by a set of adjustable vanes or sails that are caused to turn by the force of the wind
2. the set of vanes or sails that drives such a mill
3. Brit a toy consisting of plastic or paper vanes attached to a stick in such a manner that they revolve like the sails of a windmill
4. a small air-driven propeller fitted to a light aircraft to drive auxiliary equipment
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
But the Windmill Winter Wonderland held the first two weekends in December is the real moneymaker.
The site of the Windmill monument, Windmill Hills, Gateshead, July 2018 TREVOR ERMEL
"The response to the council just goes to show how important the windmill is as a monument," she said.
Keith's biggest challenge was rebuilding the conical roof, so he visited the renovated Berkswell Windmill in the Midlands for ideas and measurements.
The windmill also has gardens, a patio area, pond and parking for up to eight cars.
Pupils from nearby Ingleby Mill Primary School were involved in the original park design as part of their schoolwork with local artist, Gilmar Ribeiro, and have also helped to come up with the "windmill" theme of the new structure.
They will creak back into life at Berkswell Windmill, in Balsall Common.
The Georgian windmill re-opened to the public last year after a five-year restoration project, but this will be the first time the sails have turned since 1948.
The Bogdanci windmill park may accept six more windmills.
"So can they stop blaming windmill power generators [for killing birds] now?" asked online reader bobfairlane.
Like Bidston, Wavertree Windmill was a prominent landmark but is long gone.