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 spiral (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for spiral

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Since access to the space was limited by a tiny spiral staircase with no exterior entry, the home’s roof was opened up to accommodate bringing in construction equipment and materials. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "These Alabama homes won awards for fabulous transformations," 16 Apr. 2021 The spokes follow a helical pattern, like a spiral staircase leading through the inside of the bone. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Unique Bone Structure Helped Long-Necked Pterosaurs Fly," 16 Apr. 2021 Other accents exist in the form of plants, five of which fill the back of the sitting room, which features a glass ceiling and a spiral steel-and-glass staircase that leads to the three bedrooms on the top level. New York Times, "When Ancient Rome Meets Minimalism," 2 Apr. 2021 In addition to 15 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, there’s a great room with stenciled beams and a lower-level lounge with French doors and a spiral staircase. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, "Her convent fight with Katy Perry is legendary. Now restaurateur Dana Hollister lists for $40 million in Silver Lake," 29 Mar. 2021 In certain portraits, a viewer can practically descend into a subject’s eye socket as though down a spiral staircase. Sophie Madeline Dess, The Atlantic, "The Brilliance in Francis Bacon’s Early Failures," 25 Mar. 2021 Its classic New England-style cottages are situated along a private beach, and its Octagon House, a three-level beachfront home, offers spectacular views, balcony, full kitchen, and show-stopping center spiral staircase. Patricia Doherty, Travel + Leisure, "20 U.S. Hotels With Stunning Private Villas," 19 Mar. 2021 Other special, and unusual, details include a turret with a widow’s walk, a dungeon with a spiral staircase, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, a stone waterfall and medieval battlements. Janice O'leary, Robb Report, "Derek Jeter’s $13 Million Lakefront Castle Has an Infinity Pool Shaped Like a Baseball Diamond," 18 Mar. 2021 Once hailed as a pandemic hero and potential presidential contender, the governor has seen his political future spiral downward over eight perilous days in the wake of a New York Times report about Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo. New York Times, "Top State Leader Says ‘Cuomo Must Resign.’ Governor Says ‘No Way.’," 7 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But Beautiful Things, published today, is the world according to Hunter Biden, son of the current President and a mainstay on the Washington scene until the death of his brother sent him in a dark spiral. Philip Elliott, Time, "Hunter Biden On Making His Own Crack, Living with His Dealer and His Family’s Effort to Keep Him Alive," 6 Apr. 2021 Within a few years, the downward spiral that Sun Liping had warned of began to occur. Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, "Surviving the Crackdown in Xinjiang," 5 Apr. 2021 Losing two of three in late January/early February didn’t cue the death spiral that plagued once-promising seasons. Michael Casagrande | Mcasagrande@al.com, al, "How this Alabama basketball season will be remembered," 31 Mar. 2021 Labyrinths fuse the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering, purposeful path. BostonGlobe.com, "Walking in circles is healthy at these four local labyrinths," 26 Mar. 2021 Though the 200-year-old invention will almost certainly never disappear, the gains of 2020 are projected to slow and slide back into the downward spiral the industry had experienced over the past decade. Angela Lashbrook, refinery29.com, "Whatever Happened To Eating A Bowl Of Cereal?," 24 Mar. 2021 Left untreated, this pattern can lead to the spiral of doom, often causing potentially great talent to leave organizations. Marita Decker, Forbes, "Managing Up: Five Ways To Connect With Your Boss And Advocate For Your Team," 19 Mar. 2021 Things start to spiral for Jeanette when she is accused of being connected to the popular girl's disappearance. Ruth Kinane, EW.com, "Things are far from light and sunny in the first Cruel Summer trailer," 18 Mar. 2021 The shock wave must also fight against the inward spiral of the star’s outermost layers, which are still falling onto the core. Quanta Magazine, "Secret Ingredient Found to Power Supernovas," 21 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb As Rockwall-Heath boys soccer coach Phil Duhon addressed his team at halftime on March 5, the season was starting to spiral out of control, and Duhon implored his players to find some answers. Greg Riddle, Dallas News, "Rockwall-Heath has a shot at UIL boys soccer history in the 6A state final — just don’t call them a Cinderella story," 16 Apr. 2021 The episode at the Natanz underground enrichment plant is an apparent continuation of hostilities, overt and covert, which at times have threatened to spiral into a broader confrontation with repercussions beyond the Middle East. Omid Khazani, Los Angeles Times, "What’s ahead for Iran and Israel after alleged attack at key nuclear site?," 12 Apr. 2021 These babies’ problems can spiral into life-threatening conditions in a matter of hours. Bryant Furlow, ProPublica, "Note: This story contains a description of the death of an infant.," 30 Mar. 2021 New York is suffering because its leaders have closed its schools, shops and restaurants, permitted crime to rage to recent highs in its streets and subways, and allowed a homeless epidemic to spiral frighteningly out of control. WSJ, "Don’t Bet Against a New York City Revival," 5 Mar. 2021 Documents leaked to reporter Stef Kight of Axios show that President Joe Biden’s administration projects the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border could spiral to as many as 26,000 in September. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "It’s time to mediate the immigration crisis at the border," 4 Apr. 2021 Check out this San Diego Audubon Society video that details Cohen’s love of hawks, and watch these birds spiral above the desert floor. Los Angeles Times, "Seen our hiking guide? L.A.’s 50 best hikes await," 18 Mar. 2021 At the same time, Democrats have said states need relief even if their revenues are resilient, because their costs will spiral as schools reopen and vaccination programs roll out. New York Times, "Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared," 1 Mar. 2021 Based on these results, an increase of molecular iodine could lead to more particles for water vapor to condense onto and spiral into a positive feedback loop. Quanta Magazine, "Cloud-Making Aerosol Could Devastate Polar Sea Ice," 23 Feb. 2021

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

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spiral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiral. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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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 spiral (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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