\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from swirl


swirlingly \ ˈswər-​liŋ-​lē How to pronounce swirlingly (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for swirl

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of swirl in a Sentence

Verb The water swirled around the drain. kept swirling her lemonade until I thought the sound of clinking ice would drive me insane Noun 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 The report was released Monday as rumors swirled that Adams was considering running for Portland City Council. oregonlive, "Former Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ self-funded review of sexual harassment claims ‘only’ way to vet allegations, lawyer says," 17 Jan. 2020 Beyond the barricade, Lemery looked like a ghost town partly shrouded in swirling ash. Washington Post, "Philippine volcano’s quakes, cracks send more people fleeing," 16 Jan. 2020 But not long after Deloitte published its findings on Monday, and after several hours of swirling rumor, Valverde was fired. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Ernesto Valverde and the Prison of Barcelona’s Past," 14 Jan. 2020 When rumors of his new girlfriend began swirling online, fans took to the comments section of Dog's post with Moon to show support for the potential couple. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "There Are Rumors Dog the Bounty Hunter Has a New Girlfriend and His Daughter's Not Happy," 11 Jan. 2020 In the weeks since the House vote, the Democrats’ case for more testimony has been bolstered by new reports swirling around all four officials. Alana Abramson, Time, "Impeachment Standoff Could Be Coming to a Close," 9 Jan. 2020 Rumors began swirling in December when the RodeoHouston genre calendar was revealed and included a March 10 K-pop date. Joey Guerra, Houston Chronicle, "BTS, Blackpink, Got7: Who will be the first K-pop act to perform at RodeoHouston?," 8 Jan. 2020 Additional allegations that Ghosn used Nissan money to buy luxury homes in Beirut and Paris and that an Oman distributor helped him buy a yacht have swirled before his trial date, which is still not set. Clifford Atiyeh, Car and Driver, "Latest from Ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's Press Conference," 8 Jan. 2020 When rumours first started swirling, TMZ reported that Bilson and Hader were seen grabbing coffee in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Saturday Night Live star's hometown. Kathryn Lindsay, refinery29.com, "Bill Hader & Rachel Bilson Just Took Their Rumoured Relationship To The Red Carpet," 6 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rewriting history is harmful Some might argue that social media is a dangerous place to learn about historic fact, given the swirl of half-truths and outright lies that these platforms allow. Brianna Holt, Quartz, "Social media has become an inclusive alternative to history textbooks," 3 Jan. 2020 Reality was droning on as usual, with impartial sunlight streaming through a nearby window and picking out swirls of dust motes. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Art of Dying," 16 Dec. 2019 Three small glasses bring icy swirls of mango and strawberry, a tangy guava and lime mix and a respectable house margarita. Mike Sutter, ExpressNews.com, "Middle Eastern appetizer feast from Medical Center restaurant Al-Amir Cafe & Grill the best thing to eat in San Antonio this month," 16 Dec. 2019 At Villa Windsor, Boudin created a swirl of French and English aristocratic styles. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Inside the Duke and Duchess of Windsor's French Home, "Villa Windsor," in Bois du Boulogne," 1 Dec. 2019 That money has produced a swirl of attack ads on the internet and in print against Ramey Johnson, a councilwoman running for mayor, and in favor of her opponent, Mayor Adam Paul. John Aguilar, The Denver Post, "Pot companies, developers taking sides in contentious Lakewood election," 28 Oct. 2019 Add a few drops of nail polish, then gently create swirls with a toothpick. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "Polished Pumpkin," 9 Sep. 2019 Your first thrill will be the sight of the 'Washing Machine'—a confluence of sea and cliff that creates the illusion of a giant, gyrating swirl of water. David Jefferys, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Perfect (Long) Weekend in St. Barts," 16 Apr. 2018 Add lemon juice, give pan a swirl, then remove chicken from pan and cover with foil. Melanie Mannarino, Redbook, "Homemade Hibachi Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice," 23 Mar. 2010

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

Time Traveler for swirl

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for swirl

Last Updated

20 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Swirl.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swirl. Accessed 24 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for swirl


How to pronounce swirl (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on swirl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for swirl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


a feeling of well-being or elation

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!