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See also: Windle



Etymology 1[edit]

Perhaps from wind.


windle (plural windles)

  1. (Britain, dialectal) The redwing.
    • 1908, W. F. Rose, William White, editor, Notes and queries[1], page 48:
      The modus operandi somewhat recalls the stratagem of Gideon, for the birds—chiefly thrushes, blackbirds, fieldfares, redwings (locally "windles"), and starlings (smaller birds being disregarded)—terrified by the noise, and dazed by the lantern glare, suffered themselves to be taken by the hand, or, if roosting aloft, as was the case on still nights, to be knocked down with the poles which the lads carried.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English windle, windel, from Old English windel (basket), from Proto-Germanic *windilaz (wrap; diaper; plaitwork; basket), equivalent to wind +‎ -le. Related to Old English windan (to wind, twist).


windle (plural windles)

  1. An old English measure of corn, half a bushel.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, p. 208.
      In the Derby household book of 1561, wheat, malt, and oats are sold by the quarter and the windle, in which the quarter clearly contained sixteen windles, and must have been a wholly different measure from that which we are familiar.
    • 1889, The Chetham Society, Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster and Chester:
      On 16th September, 1622, he caused his steward and clerk of the market to alter all the measures and weights for corn, &c., from windles, affondolls, &c., and reduce them to the Winchester measure of 2 gallons to the peck and 8 gallons to the bushell, and 4 bushells to the sack, and 2 sacks to the quarter ; whereas before they sold by affondolls, whereof 4 made a windle (whereof 3 quarters make a new or Winchester bushell) and 4 of those windles made but one old bushell.
  2. Any dried-out grass leaf or stalk in a field
    • 1812, John Mawe, Travels in the Interior of Brazil:
      We rode by the side of a barren mountain, which was covered to an extent of three miles with quartz, and produced little or no herbage, except a species of wiry or windle-grass, which was much parched by the sun.
    • 1859, Charles Dickens, All the Year Round - Volume 1, page 215:
      Some of them saw nothing more but some windle straws (larsar lena) blowing round the floor, but she I spoke to saw distinctly troops of fairies riding round on horses no bigger than small birds.
    • 1886, A Glossary of Devonshire Plant Names, page 495:
      Windles. Plantago lanceolata, L.—A general name for the dry stalks of many grasses and several other pasture plants.
    • 2001, Brian Pearce, Exmoor: The Official National Park Guide, page 50:
      There are many locally distinctive names for landscape features: 'ball' for a rounded hillside spur such as Wimbleball, which means the ball where windle grass grows []
    1. Also any of several species of grasses that leave such leaves or stalks, such as dog-tail grass, Plantago lanceolata
      • 1813, The Repertory of arts and manufactures:
        That he has given a fair character of the Crested dog's tail, I have proved by by repeated experiments; in the North of Ireland, we know its panicles but two well, under the name of windle straws.
  3. Bent grass (Agrostis spp.).
  4. A windlass
    • 1885, Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office:
      A car-brake shalt provided with a tapering windle connected at its largest portion with a brake-chain which is thickest at the end nearest the windle, substantially as and for the purpose set forth.
    • 1944, William Henry Gardner, Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889): a study of poetic idiosyncrasy in relation to poetic tradition, page 260:
      They hoary women, past now age and spent, By cranks and windles, from those perilous rocks ; Aye crying, like to one wildered, were those wands...
    • 1979, Evelyn Berckman, Victims of piracy: the Admiralty Court, 1575-1678, page 78:
      'And he took one handes pike,' Titus continues,' and this exate an other, to wind about the windles (windlass), to bring the cable in and way the anker.'
  5. A reel for winding something into a bundle, such as winding string or yarn into skeins or straw into bundles.
    • 1822, Sir Walter Scott, The Pirate:
      She comes—she comes—God's sake speak her fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp on the yarn-windles.
    • 1838, François Rabelais, The Romance of Gargantua and Pantagruel, page 356:
      After this she took a pair of yarn windles, which she nine times unintermittedly veered and frisked about; then at the ninth revolution or turn, without touching them any more, maturely perpending the manner of their motion, she very demurely waited on their repose and cessation from any further stirring.
    • 1881, Scientific American: Supplement - Volume 11, page 4229:
      The second part of the improvements relates to the special arrangement for removing the skeins from above the windle without taking the latter from its supports, (see Fig. 8).
    • 1898, United States Dept. of State Bureau of Statistics, Special consular reports - Volumes 14-15, page 137:
      This axis is furnished with a cog wheel controlling a series of others, which, in their turn, put in motion the needle of an indicator; when the needle has executed a complete revolution, corresponding to 400 turns of the windle, a catch stops the machine instantaneously and throws the windle out of gear.


windle (third-person singular simple present windles, present participle windling, simple past and past participle windled)

  1. (transitive) To bind straw into bundles.