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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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
Zines such as the Infiltrator, Descenes and Vintage Violence track the ever-revolving musical gyre. John Kelly, Washington Post, 10 Oct. 2022 The patch was formed by a system of circulating currents known as a gyre that creates a whirlpool effect, Mason said. Peter Krouse, cleveland, 7 Aug. 2022 In such a widening gyre, Mounk’s calm mix of storytelling, political theory and social psychology exegesis, peppered with some charming insights, has a comforting seriousness. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 The Weddell Sea is notoriously icy, a function of a rotating current, or gyre, that keeps much of the pack ice within the sea for years. New York Times, 12 Apr. 2022 Running these pumps for 10 hours at a stretch has revealed nylon fibers and other microplastics distributed throughout the water column below the South Atlantic subtropical gyre. New York Times, 3 Apr. 2022 The film operates as a whirling, paradoxical gyre: sprawling and tightly coiled; hallucinatory and clearly legible; shockingly subversive and reassuringly old-school. Washington Post, 22 Dec. 2021 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 Companies should abstain from contributing to the gyre of empty corporate-speak and ‘walk the talk’ of fair remuneration of their workers—and if not for the welfare of workers, then for their bottom line. Neema Iyer, Quartz, 31 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gyre.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 26 Nov. 2022.

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