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
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

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 Lupfer showed me the plans: underground garage, elevator, spiral staircase leading from sundeck to swimming pool, pool house with changing rooms. Ariel Sabar, The Atlantic, "A Mystery at Oxford," 13 May 2020 The second story boasts a bonus room, office, a loft accessed by a spiral staircase and the master suite. Los Angeles Times, "Hot Property: Philip Rivers looks to hand one off in San Diego," 9 May 2020 Researchers have speculated that the tusk, which grows out of the animal's head in a spiral pattern, was used as an environment sensor or to hunt. Katie Hunt, CNN, "Here's how the 'unicorns of the sea' got their tusks," 18 Mar. 2020 One unique feature is the luxurious two-story master closet, which features glass-front cabinetry, a spiral staircase, quartz wet bar with beverage center and refrigerator, seating area and jewelry safe. Rebecca Hennes, Houston Chronicle, "Waterfront Sugar Land palace, opulent River Oaks mansion highlight Houston's top homes sold in March," 8 Apr. 2020 The measures are getting even tighter because the numbers of deaths from the virus and of new Covid-19 cases continues to spiral upward. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, March 23–29," 29 Mar. 2020 Experts do not expect the Ugandan outbreak to spiral out of control. New York Times, "For the Third Time, W.H.O. Declines to Declare the Ebola Outbreak an Emergency," 14 June 2019 Harvard University scientists reported Tuesday that this massive structure has been hiding out in the Milky Way galaxy’s spiral arm closest to Earth. Washington Post, "Titanic wave of star-forming gases found in Milky Way," 7 Jan. 2020 More interstellar tourists will be passing through our neighborhood, which is just one tiny corner of one spiral arm full of stars that juts out from a supermassive black hole. New York Times, "What We Learned in Space and Astronomy News in 2019," 23 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Aron details the spiral, of screaming matches and vomit and things thrown across rooms. Ew Staff, EW.com, "Good Morning, Destroyer of Men's Souls," 12 May 2020 With the right number of spirals, the phase delay could be made just right for destructive interference. Chris Lee, Ars Technica, "Hollow corkscrews may put a cork in noisy ventilation," 14 Apr. 2020 Pipe the glaze in a spiral on each cookie, starting in the middle and leaving a ¼-inch border around the edges. Joseph Neese, House Beautiful, "Joanna Gaines Shares a Sneak Peek From "Magnolia Table, Vol. 2" and It's a Recipe That Baby Crew Loves," 3 Apr. 2020 There was no panic then, just the long, slow spiral into this shutdown. Sylvia Poggioli, The New York Review of Books, "Pandemic Journal, March 23–29," 29 Mar. 2020 As tenants lose their jobs and the economy spirals, landlords are worried, too. Madison Iszler, ExpressNews.com, "‘I feel hopeless right now’: San Antonio renters, landlords worried about bills," 24 Mar. 2020 For his aerocar straight out of steampunk fantasy, Leyat chose a name inspired by the ancient Greek word for spiral, as in helix and helicopter, which was undoubtedly less demonic-sounding to Parisians than to modern English speakers. Popular Mechanics, "This Was Once the Most Preposterous Vehicle Known to Man," 24 Mar. 2020 In 1942, to prevent an ascending spiral of wage increases (as employers tried to outbid each other for the scarce number of remaining workers), the government established the Office of Economic Stabilization. Robin Kaiser-schatzlein, The New Republic, "Why Deaths of Despair Are Rising," 10 Mar. 2020 The Jets are in a full spiral, with ex-Dolphins coach Adam Gase — 5-15 in his past 20 games — at it again, getting rid of players apparently for looking at him sideways. Keven Lerner, sun-sentinel.com, "Staff predictions: New York Jets (1-6) at Miami Dolphins (0-7)," 1 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The creamy fontina cheese blended well with the roasted mushrooms and crunchy onions, but the balsamic glaze spiraled atop the pizza like the perfect doodle delivered an ultra-sweet finish that tasted like a four-star dessert. Chuck Blount, ExpressNews.com, "52 Weeks of Pizza: Dough Pizzeria Napoletana restaurant delivers pepperoni pie worth a drive," 15 May 2020 Covid-19 outbreaks appear to have spiraled out from large religious meetings both in South Korea and in France, each resulting in thousands of infections. Hilda Bastian, Wired, "Social Distancing Has Become the Norm. What Have We Learned?," 8 May 2020 Working diligently to prepare for a career with dismal hiring prospects can certainly send people spiraling into existential crises. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "I went to grad school in the last recession. Here’s my advice to people considering it now," 1 May 2020 Beige- and cream-colored stripes cover the snail’s spiraled shell, which protects the snail from predators and prevents it from drying out. National Geographic, "Partula snail," 26 Mar. 2020 The blow Studio owners understand that closing shop temporarily is the best thing to do given that the number of coronavirus cases in India is spiraling by the day. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Coronavirus is making India’s gyms and dance studios sweat," 23 Mar. 2020 Your shavings can be in orderly rows or in a spiraling pattern. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "8 Wood Carving Skills for Survival," 25 Feb. 2020 Their crowns jut from suburban neighborhoods and far-flung forests, topped with spiraling multicolored dragons, phoenixes, and intricate scenes dancing from one gabled roof to another. Chris Schalkx, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Road Trip Through Taiwan's Hot Springs and Tea Plantations," 7 Feb. 2020 Imagine a spiraling ramp, on which gallerygoers float downward surrounded by art within a white cylinder of concrete. Christopher Benfey, Harper's magazine, "Burning Down the House," 25 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for spiral

Time Traveler

The first known use of spiral was in 1551

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Statistics for spiral

Last Updated

28 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spiral.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spiral. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for spiral

spiral

adjective
How to pronounce spiral (audio)

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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Comments on spiral

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