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: a circular or spiral motion or form
especially : a giant circular oceanic surface current
gyral adjective


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gyred; gyring

intransitive verb

: to move in a circle or spiral

Did you know?

William Butler Yeats opens his 1920 poem, "The Second Coming," with the following lines: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…." Often found in poetic or literary contexts as an alternative to the more familiar circle or spiral, gyre comes via the Latin gyrus from the Greek gyros, meaning "ring" or "circle." Gyre is also frequently encountered as an oceanographic term that refers to vast circular systems of ocean currents, such as the North Atlantic Gyre, a system of currents circling clockwise between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Gyre is also sometimes used of more localized vortices, such as those produced by whirlpools or tornadoes.

Examples of gyre in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The question today is whether the gyre of slaughter can be broken, a third intifada averted and something new emerge from the West Bank’s disintegration and Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2024 By the early 2030s, the company plans to have built a 25,000-square-mile farm in the South Atlantic subtropical gyre, between Brazil and Namibia. Saima May Sidik, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Jan. 2024 Fleming, too, fell into the United States’ widening gyre. Daniel Immerwahr, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2024 The widening ideological gyre means that fault lines have opened up on the left too. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, 30 Aug. 2023 There are five gyres located throughout the oceans. Aliza Chasan, CBS News, 17 Apr. 2023 This round in the endless Israeli-Palestinian gyre has driven people over the edge. Roger Cohen Avishag Shaar-Yashuv, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2023 There are five gyres in the ocean — one in the Indian, two in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific — and each gyre contains garbage patches of different sizes. Li Cohen, CBS News, 16 Oct. 2021 Advertisement Similarly a recent study found that the lake’s waters contain microplastic concentrations higher than those observed in ocean gyres — systems of ocean currents notorious for accumulating plastic waste. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 24 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gyre.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin gyrus, from Greek gyros


Late Latin gyrare, from Latin gyrus

First Known Use


1566, in the meaning defined above


1593, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gyre was in 1566


Dictionary Entries Near gyre

Cite this Entry

“Gyre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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