Word for when the blades of a windmill are intentionally loosened?
August 31, 2018 8:42 AM   Subscribe

What's the word for when the blades of a windmill are intentionally loosened?

This has been torturing me and the torture is multiplied by the fact that I don't have a need for this word. But there is a word, an old-timey sounding word, for the state when a propellor or windmill (or or or) is disengaged so that it no longer catches the wind.

Feathered is close, but I don't think it is right. It's worth noting that maybe feathered IS the word, and I am torturing myself for having a wrinkled brain.

Words that keep coming up but aren't it (or possibly even words)- fledged, shivered, quivered, furled.

Possibly a sailing term? Possibly somehow tied up with archery.

Please help me.
posted by dirtdirt to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by beagle at 8:44 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by counterfeitfake at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2018

Took me a minute to realize that was an answer and not a [!]. Carry on.

posted by beagle at 8:54 AM on August 31, 2018 [9 favorites]

Feathered or feathering is definitely the modern term for moving the blades of a propeller or windmill/wind turbine parallel to airflow.
posted by rockindata at 9:05 AM on August 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

I think it's feathered. That's the term I've heard for angling the blades of variable-pitch propellors to minimise wind resistance, so it doesn't seem like much a stretch to apply it to windmills even if the mechanism is different.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 9:05 AM on August 31, 2018

posted by Krazor at 9:11 AM on August 31, 2018

Furling? (Edit: Sorry, should have read more carefully)
posted by hawthorne at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2018

See "feathering" used in an industry publication here. "Luffing" apparently means turning the windmill into the wind (the term comes from sailing), and is not used in connection with modern windmills. "Furling" is an alternative method of stopping or slow the windmill by turning it in a direction away from the wind.
posted by beagle at 9:27 AM on August 31, 2018

posted by jamjam at 10:09 AM on August 31, 2018

Windmill sail:
the common sail is the simplest form of sail. In medieval mills, the sailcloth was out in and out of a ladder-type arrangement of sails. Medieval sails could be constructed with or without outer sailbars. Post-medieval mill sails have a lattice framework over which the sailcloth is spread. There are various "reefs" for the different spread of sails; these are full sail, dagger point, sword point and first reef. The mill must be stopped in order to adjust the reefing of the sail.
posted by jamjam at 10:32 AM on August 31, 2018

"In irons" is when you point your sailboat directly into the wind so the sail can't catch the wind on either side. The boat can't get any power so it will eventually glide to a stop. No idea if the term is used about windmills.
posted by Liesl at 10:44 AM on August 31, 2018

posted by canoehead at 11:07 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

actual wind turbine person here. Reefing is an appropriate term for windmill sail cloth positions. Feathering describes variable blade pitch: when at full feather, the blades shouldn't turn at all. On modern wind turbines, the rotor brake helps with that a lot.

Wind turbines can't freewheel above very low wind speeds, but wind mills could be set to spill gusts.
posted by scruss at 6:57 PM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

In one of the Thomas Hardy novels this was brought up, and it was a old timey word that I can't remember. Most likely some form of the word feathered.
posted by james33 at 6:37 AM on September 1, 2018

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