When I was doing some research for my new book, I started getting confused because different authors occasionally used different terms regarding pinwheels, wind spinners, mobiles, weathervanes, whirligigs, and windspiel.
So what’s the difference between a whirligig and a windspiel, for example?
Here’s what I found:
Basically, a whirligig is simply a toy or ornament that spins (from the Middle English words: “whirlen” = to whirl and “gigg” = top). Source: wikipedia
The most common whirligigs are the wind-driven ones: pinwheels, weathervanes, and wind spinners, but others include string powered ones like button buzzers and bamboo-copters and friction whirligigs (Gee-Haws).
A windspiel (from German “Wind” = wind and “Spiel” = play or game) is an ornament which moves in the wind but does not necessarily spin or rotate – wind socks, for example.
Mobiles are a type of windspiel, and so are wind chimes which even produce sound.
Whirligigs and windspiel from metal, wood or plastic are sturdy enough for outside – eye-catching garden ornaments or works of kinetic (= moving) art.
Sometimes it’s not quite clear whether an ornament would count as a whirligig or as a windspiel…but does it really matter?
They are all toys for the wind to play with! 🙂