A whirligig is a toy (or a garden decoration) that has parts that spin freely. Here's an example:
Figuratively, a whirligig is anything that's always full of motion, or anything that's always full of activity.
WUR lee gig
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one whirligig or multiple whirligigs.)
You can use "whirligig" as a verb: "something whirligigs."
It works as an adjective, too: "whirligig thoughts," "a whirligig dance."
How to use it:
Talk about a whirligig of thoughts, memories, feelings, events, changes, etc.
For example, Sartre talked about "the whirligigs of being and appearance, of the imaginary and the real," and Shakespeare talked about "the whirligig of time." You get the impression they both were being pretty serious and reflective, but a whirligig can be lighthearted, too: "a whirligig of parties."
The weekend was a whirligig of shopping, playing, and celebrating.
Paul Fleischman's novel Whirligig is a good introduction to symbolism for teens or older kids. The main character builds literal whirligigs as a means of atonement for a terrible accident he caused, all the while spinning in a whirligig of guilt and self-discovery. And the book itself is a whirligig of different narrators who pop in with anecdotes about finding meaning in the actual whirligigs that the narrator built.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "whirligig" means when you can explain it without saying "pinwheel" or "flurry."
Think of something that made you experience a swirl of many different feelings, and fill in the blank: "_____ set off a whirligig of emotions."
Example: "Taking my daughter to day care for the first time set off a whirligig of emotions."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with song lyrics that include words featured in issues of Make Your Point. I’ll give you a few lines from the song, with a blank where our word appears, along with its definition. See if you can come up with it! You can follow the link to see the right answer right away, or just wait until the following day’s issue. Have fun!
Yesterday's lyrics: Artist: Jimmy Buffet
Title: Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami
Lyrics: Smoothing off the rougher edges of the culture clash
We got a style, we got a look
We got that old _____
Definition: a style that’s grand or bold
Try this one today:
Artist: Liza Minnelli Title: You Fascinate Me So Lyrics: So sermonize and preach to me
Make your _____ little speech to me
But oh my darling you forgive my inability to concentrate Definition: pretending to be holy and perfect (and therefore annoying)
Mahatma Gandhi: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
1. The opposite of WHIRLIGIG is
2. The scandal was a whirligig, _____.
A. with new and strange developments cropping up nearly every day
B. one that caused a simple, unmitigated public relations nightmare
C. easily forgotten as soon as something more interesting made headlines
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.