spiral

adjective
spi·​ral | \ ˈspī-rəl How to pronounce spiral (audio) \

Definition of spiral

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : winding around a center or pole and gradually receding from or approaching it the spiral curve of a watch spring
b : helical
c : spiral-bound a spiral notebook
2 : of or relating to the advancement to higher levels through a series of cyclical movements

spiral

noun

Definition of spiral (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : the path of a point in a plane moving around a central point while continuously receding from or approaching it
b : a three-dimensional curve (such as a helix) with one or more turns about an axis
2 : a single turn or coil in a spiral object
3 : something having a spiral form as:
b(1) : a spiral flight
(2) : a kick or pass in which a football rotates on its long axis while moving through the air
4 : a continuously spreading and accelerating increase or decrease wage spirals

spiral

verb
spiraled or spiralled; spiraling or spiralling

Definition of spiral (Entry 3 of 3)

intransitive verb

: to go and especially to rise or fall in a spiral course costs spiraled upward

transitive verb

1 : to form into a spiral
2 : to cause to spiral

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Other Words from spiral

Adjective

spirally \ ˈspī-​rə-​lē How to pronounce spirally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for spiral

Synonyms: Adjective

coiling, corkscrew, helical, involute, screwlike, winding

Synonyms: Verb

coil, corkscrew, curl, entwine, twine, twist, wind

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Examples of spiral in a Sentence

Adjective

a spiral staircase takes visitors up into the Statue of Liberty

Noun

The glider flew in a wide spiral over the field. The quarterback threw a tight spiral to the receiver.

Verb

Smoke spiraled up from the chimney. The airplane spiraled to the ground and crashed. The unemployment rate has been spiraling upward. The stock market is spiraling downward. Let's deal with this crisis before it spirals out of control.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The building itself is a work of art, with giant bubble windows protruding from the exterior and an interior atrium with a spiral staircase twisting toward a latticed skylight. Katherine Rodeghier, Dallas News, "St. Petersburg, Fla., goes from senior rest home to hipster hangout," 18 June 2019 Descend into the caldera for an afternoon safari drive, ready to be mesmerized by zebra stripes and the eland’s spiral horns. National Geographic, "Tanzania Family Journey: A Serengeti Safari," 17 June 2019 The iconic home has curved walls, one of three spiral designs from Wright, with panoramic views of Camelback Mountain. Lorraine Longhi, azcentral, "Posh Places: Frank Lloyd Wright house in upscale Arcadia area listed for $9.9M," 8 June 2019 These new techniques create different types of curls, from spiral coils to wavy hair. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Modern Hair Perms," 30 Apr. 2019 So why did the White Walkers adopt the spiral symbol? Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The True Origins of the White Walkers' Terrifying Spiral Symbol in Game of Thrones," 15 Apr. 2019 Metro insists this layout won’t delay buses, but experience suggests otherwise at the upper West Seattle Bridge, where buses crawl with cars in the spiral ramp to Sodo. Mike Lindblom, The Seattle Times, "What will the Highway 99 tunnel opening mean for bus routes, detours and tsunamis? We answer those questions and more," 12 Dec. 2018 But what really caught our eye was Underwood’s two-story dressing room, complete with a vanity and full-length mirror on one floor and a decadent closet above—connected by a spiral staircase. Cator Sparks, House Beautiful, "Carrie Underwood Is Selling Her Tennessee Home," 11 Mar. 2019 Autonomous, electric vehicles could be lowered into the system on wall-less elevators the size of two cars or spiral ramps. Amanda Lee Myers, The Seattle Times, "Elon Musk’s new tunnel ‘a little rough around the edges’," 19 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The key reason for BSNL’s downward spiral is intense competition with private players like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Once a monopoly, India’s biggest state-owned telecom firm is now broke," 26 June 2019 What transpires from now up until August 8 could ultimately set the Gunners en route towards the upper echelons of the Premier League, or begin the spiral towards mid-table mediocrity that looms large in north London. SI.com, "Arsenal Signings: Assessing the Gunners' Transfer Targets (and How Unlikely They Are to Happen)," 23 June 2019 Previously, the spiral of stuffed pastry was only available as a special, but Ekic now has her baker making it every morning with varying stuffings of spinach, potatoes or meat and cheese. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, "Balkan House in Hamtramck is metro Detroit's only spot for German-style doner kebab," 13 June 2019 And that doesn’t begin to cover the spiral of worry and dread that comes with panic attacks. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "8 Ways to Make Panic Attacks a Little More Bearable," 5 June 2019 The downward spiral is easy enough to see: A/C units contribute to global warming through their use of hydrofluorocarbons, which drive temperatures up, which causes people to buy more A/C units. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Could We Re-Engineer A/Cs To Help Battle Climate Change?," 30 Apr. 2019 Socialist firebrand Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999, and instituted a range of policies that critics say set in motion the economic death spiral from which the country has not recovered. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "Venezuelan opposition leader laments "genocide" in his country, reveals his escape from detainment," 18 Sep. 2018 Wright’s vision began with an opera house and ended with an incredibly ambitious concept, repeatedly geometrically referencing the spiral of the Great Mosque of Samarra and the famed round city of Baghdad from the days of the Abbasid Caliphate. Darran Anderson, The Atlantic, "The Cities That Never Existed," 17 June 2018 The Lions’ spiral toward the worst MLS season in club history began around this time last season. Jordan Culver, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City coach Jason Kreis confident club can avoid another slump," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Their lives spiraled out of control, through hell and back. oregonlive.com, "A game of catch between Walter Bailey and Dan Devaney still is changing lives 37 years later," 5 July 2019 The answer to that question has spiraled into a legal battle between scientists and government officials over the release of a national drug use survey done by the renowned Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Alex Fox, Science | AAAS, "Top stories: The science of false confessions, transforming blood types, and Brazil’s war on drugs," 14 June 2019 The region had spiraled into a crisis far worse than even its normal, wrenching poverty. Kevin Baker, Harper's magazine, "Where Our New World Begins," 10 May 2019 For instance, Ayanna never told Kevin Jr. the one from before her son was born that could teach him about how quickly life can spiral out of control — the one that altered the course of two South Seattle families in 1993. J. Brady Mccollough, latimes.com, "USC’s Kevin Porter Jr. chases NBA dream to honor a father he barely knew," 16 June 2019 With violence spiraling out of control in the Darfur region, the U.N. Security Council and the African Union may soon vote to close the UNAMID peacekeeping mission, just as their presence is needed most. Fox News, "Sudan military admits security forces committed 'violations' after protests turned deadly," 15 June 2019 By Marisa Iati | The Washington Post China issued a travel advisory on the U.S. through the end of the year amid spiraling trade tensions between the two countries. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "China warns its citizens against US travel, citing ‘frequent’ shootings and harassment," 4 June 2019 Inflation is among the most powerful forces in financial markets, but too much or too little can send the economy spiraling. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Low-Inflation Trap That Ensnared Japan and Europe Worries Fed," 3 June 2019 In the center is a white-oak pedestal topped by an edition of a hypnotic, spiraling Georgia O’Keeffe sculpture. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "This Brian J. McCarthy-Designed Hamptons Home is Filled with the Unexpected," 13 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spiral.' 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 spiral

Adjective

1551, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1834, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for spiral

Adjective

Medieval Latin spiralis, from Latin spira coil — more at spire

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Statistics for spiral

Last Updated

26 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spiral

The first known use of spiral was in 1551

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More Definitions for spiral

spiral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of spiral

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: winding or circling around a central point and usually getting closer to or farther away from it : shaped or moving like a spiral

spiral

noun

English Language Learners Definition of spiral (Entry 2 of 3)

: a circular curving line that goes around a central point while getting closer to or farther away from it
: a situation in which something continuously increases, decreases, or gets worse
American football : a kick or throw in which the ball spins while moving through the air

spiral

verb

English Language Learners Definition of spiral (Entry 3 of 3)

: to move in a circle around a central point while getting closer to or farther away from it : to move in a spiral
: to greatly increase, decrease, or get worse in a continuous and usually fast and uncontrolled way

spiral

adjective
spi·​ral | \ ˈspī-rəl How to pronounce spiral (audio) \

Kids Definition of spiral

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : winding or circling around a center and gradually getting closer to or farther away from it a spiral seashell
2 : circling around a center like the thread of a screw a spiral staircase

spiral

noun

Kids Definition of spiral (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a single turn or coil in a spiral object
2 : something having a form that winds or circles around a center

spiral

verb
spiraled or spiralled; spiraling or spiralling

Kids Definition of spiral (Entry 3 of 3)

: to move in or as if in a winding or circular path Smoke spiraled from the chimney. … an immense caldron … sent great clouds of savory steam spiraling slowly to the ceiling.— Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

spiral

adjective
spi·​ral | \ ˈspī-rəl How to pronounce spiral (audio) \

Medical Definition of spiral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : winding around a center or pole and gradually receding from or approaching it
b : helical the spiral structure of DNA
2 : being a fracture in which the break is produced by twisting apart the bone a double spiral break

Other Words from spiral

spirally \ -​rə-​lē How to pronounce spirally (audio) \ adverb

spiral

noun

Medical Definition of spiral (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the path of a point in a plane moving around a central point while continuously receding from or approaching it
2 : a three-dimensional curve (as a helix) with one or more turns about an axis the double spiral of DNA

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More from Merriam-Webster on spiral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spiral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spiral

Spanish Central: Translation of spiral

Nglish: Translation of spiral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spiral for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spiral

Comments on spiral

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