\ˈswər(-ə)l \
swirled; swirling; swirls

Definition of swirl 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to move with an eddying or whirling motion swirling water

b : to pass in whirling confusion

2 : to have a twist or convolution

transitive verb

: to cause to swirl swirled her drink



Definition of swirl (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a whirling mass or motion : eddy

b : whirling confusion a swirl of events

2 : a twisting shape, mark, or pattern

3 : an act or instance of swirling

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from swirl


swirlingly \ˈswər-liŋ-lē \ adverb

Examples of swirl in a Sentence


The water swirled around the drain. kept swirling her lemonade until I thought the sound of clinking ice would drive me insane


A swirl of smoke rose from the chimney. He painted swirls of color on the canvas. ice cream with chocolate swirls
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Storms on the southern side of Tucson caused a swirling weather formation in the sky Saturday evening that many people found perplexing. Kaila White, azcentral, "No, it's not a tornado in the sky. Gustnado spotted in Tucson during dust storms!," 7 July 2018 And in one of Mrs. Arnold’s more expansive acrylic paintings, the swirling skies could herald a clearing spell — or a catastrophic storm. Bryan Marquard, BostonGlobe.com, "Doffie Arnold, an artist whose canvases sparkled with energy, dies at 94," 6 July 2018 The swirling stone reliefs of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs venue, inside the Louvre palace, accentuated the clothes’ architectural lines. Washington Post, "Standing ovation at Valentino caps Paris couture week," 4 July 2018 And, in the public waiting area, 25 swirling ladders are suspended over head to symbolize a converging of journeys at the airport. Jennifer Van Grove, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Facial recognition tech speeds up customs at new San Diego airport facility," 28 June 2018 Mod for Prints The ’60s’ swirling prints are staging a comeback. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "The Resort 2019 Trend Report," 25 June 2018 Sawmill workers regularly lost fingers, hands and arms to the swirling saws. Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, "Huge Aberdeen fire steals thousands of pieces of town history, including a Kurt Cobain exhibit," 16 June 2018 In flight, the swirling tail sends out sound waves that conflict with those of the flapping wings. Amy Raudenbush, Philly.com, "Hey, kids: Draw this fancy moth for a chance to have your artwork published!," 15 June 2018 Hatfield also suggests the design adopted by the university, horseshoe shaped and open to the north, could help create a swirling wind that will detract from performances. Andrew Greif, OregonLive.com, "Oregon Ducks bow out of 3x3 World Cup against eventual champs," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Baldwin and singer/songwriter Mendes attended the Met Ball together in May, posing together, holding hands and creating a swirl of speculation that the two were an item. Connor Whittum, Billboard, "Hailey Baldwin Deletes All Instagram Pictures With Shawn Mendes," 29 June 2018 If desired, add the white chocolate (to taste) and stir just long enough to create melty swirls. Bonnie S. Benwick, miamiherald, "Here are five quick-fix ways to enjoy chocolate | Miami Herald," 12 Feb. 2018 Spoon the meringue over the ice cream and, using the back of the spoon, create swirls and swoops. Woman's Day Kitchen, Woman's Day, "S'mores Ice Cream Pie," 9 May 2016 In this photo, the clouds of Jupiter appear to be a beautiful, marbled swirl of colors and textures. Laura Yan, Popular Mechanics, "Jupiter’s Chaotic Clouds Look Like Gorgeous Marbled Paper," 1 July 2018 Mediated experience was a swirl of word-of-mouth ephemera and tribal mythology that persisted through unfaithful oral repetition. Antonio García Martínez, WIRED, "Facebook, Snapchat and the Dawn of the Post-Truth Era," 28 May 2018 Even these obligatory beats, however, scarcely register amid the movie's hectic swirl of sloppily cut-together action, as well as a pervasively gritty, downbeat atmosphere that tries hard to seem jaunty and back-to-basics. Justin Chang, latimes.com, "'Solo: A Star Wars Story' never gets off the ground, but don't blame Alden Ehrenreich," 16 May 2018 But my favorite part of the art here is that in a book that speaks so much to memories and boundaries, Kowalski's strongest storytelling tool is a basic swirl. Will Nevin, OregonLive.com, "TBT #36.1: 'Death or Glory,' social body horror and more coming in comics," 1 May 2018 Leaves were airborne, blowing in a circular motion, and this huge swirl crossed my neighbor's driveway, filling it with dust. Tom Skilling, chicagotribune.com, "Ask Tom: A tornado-like swirl blew leaves, dust in a circular motion. What was it?," 11 May 2018

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for swirl


Middle English

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about swirl

Dictionary Entries near swirl








Statistics for swirl

Last Updated

29 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swirl

The first known use of swirl was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for swirl



English Language Learners Definition of swirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move in circles or to cause (something) to move in circles



English Language Learners Definition of swirl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a twisting or swirling movement, form, or object

: a state of busy movement or activity


\ˈswərl \
swirled; swirling

Kids Definition of swirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move with a spinning or twisting motion



Kids Definition of swirl (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a spinning mass or motion : eddy a swirl of water

2 : busy movement or activity She got caught up in the swirl of events.

3 : a twisting shape or mark The ice cream has chocolate swirls.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on swirl

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


required by fashion, etiquette, or custom

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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