Catherine wheel

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Saint Catherine of Alexandria was said to have been sentenced to execution on such a wheel, but it shattered at her touch.


Catherine wheel (plural Catherine wheels)

  1. A breaking wheel.
    • 1992, David Hugh Farmer, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, 3rd ed., page 88
      [] her tortures consisted of being broken on a wheel (later called Catherine wheel), but the machine broke down injuring bystanders; Catherine was beheaded.
    • 2008, Peter Carey, His Illegal Self, page 181:
      She only lied to the boy to keep him from hurt, and for her sin her intestines were pulled from her on a Catherine wheel.
  2. (chiefly heraldry) The image of a breaking wheel, or wheel with spikes on it.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy, 2nd corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, 1624, OCLC 54573970, (please specify |partition=1, 2, or 3):
      , II.i.1:
      Sorcerers are too common; cunning men, wizards, and white witches [] have commonly St. Catherine's wheel printed in the roof of their mouth, or in some other part about them […].
  3. A firework that rotates when lit.
  4. (gymnastics) A cartwheel move.
    • 1897, W.S. Maugham, Lisa of Lambeth, chapter 1
      [] she went on, making turns and twists, flourishing her skirts, kicking higher and higher, and finally, among a volley of shouts, fell on her hands and turned head over heels in a magnificent catharine-wheel; then scrambling to her feet again, she tumbled into the arms of a young man standing in the front of the ring.
  5. (architecture) A rose window.