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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from spiral

Adjective

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

Synonyms for spiral

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
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 Rodgers was reportedly very upset the Packers failed to give him a heads up about the move and the relationship between him and the Packers has been in a non-stop downward spiral since. oregonlive, "Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to return to the Green Bay Packers: Report," 29 Apr. 2021 Like other drugs that provide a momentary high but lead to a downward spiral, discounting in retail can have a similar effect. Sanford Stein, Forbes, "Macy’s Backstage Move Is An Escalator Down, Not Up," 16 Apr. 2021 The couple may not fit common perceptions of homelessness, but did endure a series of misfortunes that led to a downward spiral that left them on the streets. Gary Warth, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Couple finally home for Christmas," 24 Dec. 2020 At first, Karabasz and her husband managed to scrape together nearly $835 per month to continue with her existing Kaiser Permanente insurance from teaching, but the financial strain caused her depression to spiral. Carrie Arnold, Quartz, "Kidney dialysis is a booming business. Is it also a rigged one?," 15 Dec. 2020 As O'Brien's seventh season as the Texans head coach started to spiral, Wilson reports that O'Brien argued with Watt, defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver and other staff members. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "Report: Bill O'Brien bickered with Texans' J.J. Watt, others before firing," 7 Oct. 2020 Arctic ice loss is leading to a reinforcing heat spiral. Paul Douglas, Star Tribune, "More Late August Than Late September, But Big Changes Next Week," 21 Sep. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Events spiral out of control when a man ropes his brother into a scheme to rob their parents’ jewelry store. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week: James Dean in ‘Giant’ on TCM and more," 2 Apr. 2021 As hundreds of ships line up waiting for the Ever Given‘s removal, the costs will spiral quickly. Joseph Hincks, Time, "How That Massive Container Ship Stuck in the Suez Canal Is Already Costing the World Billions of Dollars," 25 Mar. 2021 In Italy, Europe’s initial epicenter, cases had already begun to spiral, which other countries took as a grim portent. Washington Post, "Unraveling the mystery of Europe’s uneven covid surges," 19 Sep. 2020 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spiral

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 9 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on spiral

What made you want to look up spiral? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!