\ 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

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Other Words from swirl


swirlingly \ ˈswər-​liŋ-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms for swirl

Synonyms: Verb

agitate, churn, stir, wash, whirl

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

With his exact condition and whereabouts unknown, rumors had swirled that he was incapacitated or dead. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria Gripped by Whether President Is a Clone. ‘It’s the Real Me, I Assure You.’," 10 Dec. 2018 Questions have long swirled about the president’s credibility as a unifier. Zeke Miller, The Seattle Times, "Trumps pay tribute at synagogue where 11 were fatally shot," 31 Oct. 2018 Dating rumors have swirled around the duo since the release of Spider Man: Homecoming, and while neither Z nor Tom have weighed in on the gossip, that doesn’t mean someone else can’t accidentally spill the beans. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Did Skai Jackson’s Mom Just Accidentally Confirm Zendaya and Tom Holland’s Secret Relationship?!," 5 Sep. 2018 Murmurs about Heckfield Place, a red-bricked Georgian mansion on a 438-acre patch of Hampshire countryside, have been swirling for nearly a decade. Jo Rodgers, Condé Nast Traveler, "Inside the U.K.'s Most Anticipated Hotel Opening This Summer," 31 Aug. 2018 For example, rumors have swirled for months that attorney Karen Budd-Falen, who has represented controversial Nevada cattleman Cliven Bundy over grazing issues, would be tapped to run BLM. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Interior lacks permanent leaders for key agencies controlling roughly 500 million acres of public land," 3 July 2018 And the rumors about him and the Lakers have swirled for some time, though Lakers President Magic Johnson — perhaps offering a word of caution — said the rebuild of his team will take two summers. Tim Reynolds, chicagotribune.com, "So many dominoes: LeBron James can dictate NBA free agency," 27 June 2018 But debate has swirled around the question of whether Centaur will have to pay a $50 million transfer fee to the state. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "Racino owner: State will get $50 million from sale to Caesars," 26 June 2018 One agency perched itself in front of a garish mural of swirling colors, block letters, and cartoon figures that seemed straight out of every stoner caricature. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Weed and luxury in Las Vegas," 15 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The outfit included a variety of hues, ranging from lavender to burgundy to olive green, all intermixed with swirls of white for a very artsy vibe. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Wears Multicolored Tracksuit on a Date With Hailey Baldwin," 16 Sep. 2018 Del Taco: Available as part of the chain’s new Late Night Bites Menu, the Churro Dipper Shake features a warm churro dipped in a vanilla shake with chocolate swirls. Kelly Tyko, USA TODAY, "Restaurants compete to have this summer's coolest and wackiest drinks," 26 June 2018 With superfluous hand swirls, the server rolls up the meat, spreads mustard on top and generously squirts on balsamic vinegar before slicing the sushi-like roll into equitable portions for the table. Jodi Mailander Farrell, miamiherald, "We reviewed Salt Bae’s Miami restaurant. Could it possibly live up to the hype?," 15 Mar. 2018 Both videos find Monae devoid of her trademark black and white uniform and instead awash in swirls of bold colors. Melissa Ruggieri/ajc Music Scene, AJC.com, "Janelle Monae returns with ‘Dirty Computer’ album, two new videos," 22 Feb. 2018 Flaco's Tacos 725 S. Dearborn St. 312-922-8226 Head to Flaco's for any Mexican beer for $3 or the Cinco margarita for $6.25, made with the colors of the Mexican flag from cherry and lime swirls. Shelbie Lynn Bostedt, RedEye Chicago, "20 ways to eat and drink your way through Cinco de Mayo in Chicago," 5 May 2017 Meanwhile, set a large sauté pan over high heat and swirl in oil. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "A Classic and Comforting Pork Chop Recipe, Refined," 18 Dec. 2018 Payton has it in him to force the action and read the defense, finding the right play from beneath a swirl of bodies. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency 2018: Under-the-Radar Grades," 4 July 2018 Early Joni Mitchell and late-period Beatles vibes swirl about as well. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Top Picks: Ray LaMontagne’s 'Part of the Light,' the podcast 'Giants of History,' and more top picks," 9 June 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near swirl








Statistics for swirl

Last Updated

6 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for swirl

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

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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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on swirl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with swirl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swirl

Spanish Central: Translation of swirl

Nglish: Translation of swirl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of swirl for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about swirl

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).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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