\ ˈjī(-ə)r How to pronounce gyre (audio) \

Definition of gyre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


gyred; gyring

Definition of gyre (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to move in a circle or spiral

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Other Words from gyre


gyral \ ˈjī-​rəl How to pronounce gyral (audio) \ adjective

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." Today, "gyre" is most 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 tornados.

Examples of gyre in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But the 3310 is a reminder, as the spiral gets faster and gyre widens, that things weren’t always this way, that a series of intentional choices and unintended consequences have radically transformed the role technology plays in our everyday lives. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Here's the Real Reason You Miss the Nokia 3310," 1 Sep. 2020 The gyre often shifts positions in the ocean, depending on the season. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Saharan Dust Plume Slams U.S., Kicking Up Climate Questions," 26 June 2020 The storm is trapped within a large oceanic circulation, known as a gyre, and high pressure over the northern Gulf of Mexico is also inhibiting its motion. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The Atlantic’s third storm has formed in record time, and it’s a threat," 2 June 2020 As the gyre meanders north, various weather models are hinting at another early season tropical storm developing within the Atlantic Basin. Derek Van Dam, CNN, "Central America faces major flood threat," 30 May 2020 Borrowers began to default, saddling lenders with losses and creating a widening gyre of insolvency. The Economist, "Repo-market ructions were a reminder of the financial crisis," 26 Sep. 2019 Water currents and gyres The ocean doesn't sit still like water in a sink. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "The Atlantic Ocean, explained," 18 Mar. 2019 These first days of physical isolation and cultural deprivation have been a furious gyre. Jason Farago, New York Times, "The Merry-Go-Round Stopped. What Sort of Art Will Emerge?," 25 Mar. 2020 For one thing, ocean gyres tend to alter the sea levels around them. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "The Ocean’s Swirling Currents Are Migrating Poleward," 28 Feb. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of gyre


1566, in the meaning defined above


1593, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gyre


Latin gyrus, from Greek gyros


Late Latin gyrare, from Latin gyrus

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gyre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on gyre

Britannica English: Translation of gyre for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about gyre

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