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Windmills

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Don Quixote de la Mancha, riding through the plains of Montiel, approached thirty or forty windmills, which he declared to Sancho Panza “were giants, two leagues in length or more.” Striking his spurs into Rosinante, with his lance in rest, he drove at one of the “monsters dreadful as Typhœus.” The lance lodged in the sail, and the latter, striking both man and beast, lifted them into the air, shivering the lance to pieces. When the valiant knight and his steed fell to the ground they were both much injured, and Don Quixote declared that the enchanter Freston, “who carried off his library with all the books therein,” had changed the giants into windmills “out of malice.” (Cervantes: Don Quixote, bk. i. ch. viii.)

To fight with windmills. To combat chimeras. The French have the same proverb, “Se battre contre des moulins à vent.” The allusion is, of course, to the adventure of Don Quixote referred to above.

To have windmills in your head. Fancies, chimeras. Similar to “bees in your bonnet” (q.v.). Sancho Panza says—

“Did I not tell your worship they were wind-mills? and who could have thought otherwise, except such as had windmills in their head?”—Cervantes: Don Quixote, bk. i. ch. viii.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Willow Pattern
Willy-nilly
Wilmington
Wilt or Welk
Wiltshire
Winchester
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Winds
Windfall
Windmills
Windmill Street
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Wine
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Wine-month. (Anglo-Saxon, Win-monath.)
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Wintrith
Wing, Wings
Wings of Azrael (The)
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