\ 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 swirl (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for swirl

Synonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Use the rounded base of your ladle to swirl the batter to make some circular grooves on the surface. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "The best cookbooks of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 The microfibers swirl around for a time, aging and weathering, with many of them likely ending up in the western Arctic. Matt Simon, Wired, "The Arctic Ocean Is Teeming With Microfibers From Clothes," 12 Jan. 2021 Inevitable questions swirl over whether some families have used personal ties to local officials to qualify for grants. Keith Bradsher, New York Times, "Jobs, Houses and Cows: China’s Costly Drive to Erase Extreme Poverty," 31 Dec. 2020 Some birds seemed to swirl against each other, battling for turf, but other tangles involved smaller birds trying to avoid being eaten. Susan Degrane, chicagotribune.com, "Eyeing eagles: Winter is a perfect time to get outside, beat cabin fever and go birding," 26 Dec. 2020 And talk has begun to swirl around the internet that Page would be a fantastic pick for the ultimate debonair role for any actor: James Bond. Laura Furr Mericas, Chron, "Will Regé-Jean Page of 'Bridgerton' fame be the next James Bond?," 9 Jan. 2021 Use a spoon to swirl the water in the saucepan; slip the egg into the swirling water. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "Ring in the new year with restaurant-worthy brunch recipes that re-create the weekend meal’s leisurely magic," 30 Dec. 2020 None of the players or coaches on this Dallas team care about the argument or perceptions that swirl outside the organization. David Moore, Dallas News, "How a win over the Bengals creates a conundrum for Andy Dalton, Mike McCarthy and Cowboys fans," 13 Dec. 2020 But the Fox News ratings also demonstrate the size and resilience of America’s audience for pro-Donald Trump opinion and the loyalty of Fox News viewers who shrug off the controversies that routinely swirl around the network. Michael M. Grynbaum, BostonGlobe.com, "Boycotted. Criticized. But Fox News Leads the Pack in Prime Time.," 9 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The house is built around her in a swirl of red magic. Erik Kain, Forbes, "‘WandaVision’ Episode 8 Review: A Powerful Journey Through Wanda’s Grief," 26 Feb. 2021 The combo of flavors is quite addictive and the sauce pairs well over steamed couscous and a little swirl of harissa. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, "It’s a great time to revisit the classic ’80s dish Chicken Marbella," 19 Feb. 2021 The visuals from the rollout – where the rapper, whose real is name Megan Pete, stands with headlines all around her while holding a newspaper – are a nod to the constant swirl of news surrounding her. Editors, USA TODAY, "Michigan officials, Georgia results, Transgender Day of Remembrance: 5 things to know Friday," 20 Nov. 2020 Weber makes occasional, if oblique, reference to the swirl of events around him, but the dominant motif of both lectures is neither turbulence nor movement. Corey Robin, The New Yorker, "The Professor and the Politician," 12 Nov. 2020 The intoxicating swirl of vodka drinks with gummies and fruit. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "Pandemic takes heavy toll on Latino-owned businesses in R.I.," 29 Jan. 2021 But every storm is different, every wet swirl a unique puzzle to be deciphered. Star Tribune, "Twin Cities will see more snow next week and then the cold moves in," 14 Jan. 2021 Bottom Line: With the star-making power of both Disney and TikTok behind her, Olivia Rodrigo established herself as a Gen-Z icon with a single song and a swirl of gossip. Jordan Crucchiola, Vulture, "Disney and Nickelodeon Stars Gone Pop: A Ranking," 25 Jan. 2021 Lava emerged from fissures and flowed down into the crater until the water boiled off, which turned the night sky into a bright, fiery swirl of gas, ash and steam. Rasha Aridi, Smithsonian Magazine, "Hawai’i’s Kīlauea Volcano Returns Dramatically With First Eruption in Two Years," 24 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for swirl

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for swirl

Last Updated

1 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Swirl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swirl. Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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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