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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by Elia Bizzarri, 2006Whimmy-Diddle.

A whimmy-diddle, also known as the Gee-Haw Whimmy-Diddle ("gee" and "haw" are the commands shouted to oxen on a farm), is a toy made out of a stick of mountain laurel that was traditionally made by mountain parents for their children. Notches are cut down the stick and a propeller is put at the end. When another stick is rubbed against the notches exactly right, the propeller spins. With a lot of practice, the user is able to make the propeller go right or left as desired.


Florence H. Pettit, How to Make Whirligigs and Whimmy Diddles and Other American Folkcraft Objects (1972).

Roy Underhill, The Woodwright's Companion: Exploring Traditional Woodcraft (1983).

Image Credit:

Whimmy-Diddle. Image courtesy of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Available from (accessed June 12, 2012).

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