\ ˈswər(-ə)l How to pronounce swirl (audio) \
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 How to pronounce swirlingly (audio) \ 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

And with rumors swirling around a new album release, perhaps T-Swift will be the one delivering more directional throwbacks. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Taylor Swift’s Surprising Pedicure Shade Is Proof the ’90s Are Back," 15 Mar. 2019 The investigation continues, with rumors swirling that Mueller will soon release a report of his findings. Andrew Prokop, Vox, "Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation, explained," 6 Dec. 2018 In the days leading up to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding, the number of rumors swirling were at an all-time high, but one of the biggest was that the soon-to-be Duchess would be doing her own makeup for the ceremony. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Has Been Doing Her Own Makeup in Ireland," 12 July 2018 The timing of the report is particularly interesting considering the trade rumors swirling about Los Angeles. USA TODAY, "Report: Lakers' Lonzo Ball has a torn meniscus in left knee," 29 June 2018 There are rumors swirling and everyone is posturing during this time. Matt Babcock, SI.com, "Trust the (Draft) Process: Inside NBA Prospect Workouts," 6 June 2018 Then there are the other rumors swirling about the shelters — like the bedbugs. Sarah Smith, star-telegram, "Why some homeless choose to survive in tent cities when shelters await | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 23 Mar. 2018 There had always been rumors swirling around about this kind of behavior, but nobody had ever seen the evidence and data laid out like the FBI can do. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Mark Emmert on FBI probe: 'Significant changes' coming to NCAA basketball," 16 Mar. 2018 Advertising Congressional investigations also are swirling around the president. Chad Day, The Seattle Times, "Key take-aways from special counsel Robert Mueller’s report," 25 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Mark and Kym Hilinski keenly remember the swirl of activity. Fox News, "Hilinski family won't shun football after QB son's suicide," 28 Aug. 2018 Pour wet ingredients over dry ones and fold just until no traces of flour remain (batter will be lumpy). Carefully remove hot pan from oven and swirl remaining tablespoon butter all over bottom to melt. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Sheet Pan Pancake with Blueberry Syrup," 17 Aug. 2018 The swirl of bluster and romantic sorrow on the album shows that love is one terrain that Cardi has yet to conquer. Gary Shteyngart, The New Yorker, "Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” Is as Studious as It Is Bombastic," 27 Sep. 2017 Like many lunar swirls, Reiner Gamma has powerful, localized magnetic fields. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Moon's Most Mysterious Feature Now Has an Origin Story," 7 Sep. 2018 In a swirl of nimble, pale brushwork, the artist conjures up a figure from behind, gazing in the mirror, confecting herself. Cate Mcquaid, BostonGlobe.com, "A ThemToo movement for Parisian art," 14 June 2018 The lack of explanation last year from LSU coaches and administrators resulted in a swirl of rumors, many of them accusing Fulton of failing a performance-enhancing drug test. Ross Dellenger, SI.com, "The Curious Case of Kristian Fulton: A Two-Year Ban, a Last-Ditch Appeal and a Spotlight on the NCAA," 13 June 2018 At dessert there’s a choice of vanilla or chocolate habanero soft-serve ($6), sold individually or in a swirl. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Kaya in San Francisco offers a big, boozy toast to Jamaica," 6 Apr. 2018 Pruitt is the latest Cabinet official caught up in a swirl of bad press, facing an uncertain future within the Trump administration. Juana Summers, CNN, "EPA's Pruitt fulfilling Trump's anti-regulatory agenda," 3 Apr. 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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Statistics for swirl

Last Updated

14 Apr 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 How to pronounce swirl (audio) \
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

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