\ 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 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 The data suggests that the gyres have been steadily moving toward the poles for the last four decades. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "The Ocean’s Swirling Currents Are Migrating Poleward," 28 Feb. 2020 It is bounded by an enormous gyre -- spinning oceanic currents that pull trash towards the center and trap it there, creating a garbage vortex. Sarah Lazarus, CNN, "Long-distance swimmer dives into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," 11 Dec. 2019 The voyage will cross four oceanic gyres, where ocean plastic is known to accumulate, and the Arctic. Laura Johnston, cleveland, "Lake Erie paddler Stefanie Spear to sail on all-women eXXpedition to spotlight plastic pollution," 26 Nov. 2019 Dr Ryan’s particular interest was where all the litter came from before it was swept into the gyre. The Economist, "Inaccessible Island’s rubbish problem has been bottling up for years," 3 Oct. 2019 Marcus Eriksen is co-founder of 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit named for the five main ocean gyres, said the finding is not a surprise. National Geographic, "Tiny plastic pieces are spread throughout the deep sea," 6 June 2019 In a 73-foot steel boat, the women will voyage to four oceanic gyres, which are places on earth where the currents collect plastic in alarming amounts. Halley Bondy, NBC News, "Why 300 women are teaming up to sail around world and explore ocean plastic," 26 Sep. 2019 In this photo taken June 18, 2019, provided by the Ocean Voyages Institute, are nets brought in by the sailing ship Kwai from the Pacific gyre cleanup in Honolulu. Washington Post, "40 tons of fishing nets retrieved in Pacific Ocean cleanup," 28 June 2019

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

21 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Gyre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on gyre

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with gyre

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

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