So I googled and wikipedia’d and webstered and I am still nowhere. Are pinwheels (the toy windmill thing) called pinwheels becasue they are in effect a wheel revolving around a pin, or is it some other reason? That is what I told my daughter, then realized I was not sure if it was true, so I told her “lets look it up!”…so now I want to die…please someone…anyone…why do we funking call funking pinwheels pinwheels?
I was going to say it has to be the pin, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s a windmill made by pinning a cut and folded piece of paper to a stick, with a pin. Pin wheel. Except that there’s such a thing as a pinwheel in striking clocks - it’s a bit like a hurdy gurdy drum where pins lift the striking hammer as it rotates - apparently this usage is quite old.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised then, if there are in fact two completely unrelated etymologies here - pinwheel windmill because it is a wheel pinned to a stick, and clock pinwheel that is a wheel studded with pins.
Pin at Webster’s Revised, 1913 and 1828 contains this in the 1913 edition:
There’s nothing on the toy in the 1828 edition.
Pin at Online Etymology Dictionary contains this:
I’m not finding who invented the pinwheel toy, or when it was invented.
Lady arrives at the Pearly Gates.
LADY: Is my husband here? He died before me.
ST. PETER: What was his name?
ST. PETER: We’ve got a lot of Joneses here. What was his first name?
ST. PETER: We’ve got a lot of John Joneses here too. Can you remember anything else? Something, you know, personal?
LADY: [thinks] . . . Well, he said he would turn over in his grave if I ever betrayed his memory.
ST. PETER: Oh, you mean “Pinwheel” Jones!
thanks, that helps, and also makes it clear that while i am fairly inept, I am at least partially ept
Probably because the manufactured toy was possibly just an outgrowth of what kids had been making for years:
From the OED: