\ 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

Questions have swirled in the community about indigent healthcare after an announcement that a healthcare authority, with oversight from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, may take over daily operations at Cooper Green. Ivana Hrynkiw | Ihrynkiw@al.com, al.com, "Cooper Green: What patients should know about healthcare partnership with UAB," 4 July 2019 Rumors have swirled each time there is a vacancy at a major house, but Elbaz remains a free agent. Alexandra Marshall, WSJ, "Alber Elbaz Made Almost 100 Designs for Tod’s," 2 July 2019 Outside, among the nonbelievers, generations of questions and myths have swirled around Garcia and the two apostles before him — his father and grandfather. Brittny Mejia, latimes.com, "Sex crime case renews tension in Mexico between Catholics and evangelical church," 27 June 2019 Outside, among the nonbelievers, generations of questions and myths have swirled around Garcia and the two apostles before him — his father and grandfather. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Must Reads: Sex crime case renews tension in Mexico between Catholics and evangelical church," 27 June 2019 Concerns have swirled since last week, when U.S. authorities blamed Iran for an attack on two oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a channel through which 21 million barrels of oil are transported daily. Taylor Telford, Washington Post, "U.S. markets keep the gains coming amid escalating tensions with Iraq," 21 June 2019 But questions have swirled in recent days around the evidence and the interpretation of it, in part because allies and some members of Congress question the administration’s credibility. Carol Morello, BostonGlobe.com, "Pompeo says there is more evidence that Iran attacked tankers," 16 June 2019 The big deal is that rumors have been swirling about the tense relationship between Kate and Meghan since practically the moment when Meghan first stepped into the spotlight on Prince Harry’s arm. Alexis Reliford, refinery29.com, "The Royals Are Going All Out To Quash That Meghan & Kate Feud Rumor," 10 June 2019 Chatter has swirled since then and the Suns have been right in the middle of it. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "Ricky Rubio rumors: Phoenix Suns speculation increases amid talk he's done with Utah Jazz," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But while the risk of a planet-shattering asteroid is currently nil, outer space swirls with smaller objects that, while not threatening to humanity, can still do real damage. Fox News, "Humans are probably safe from a catastrophic asteroid strike — for now," 12 June 2019 In the area where the giant polynya opened up, there is an underwater mountain that, when met with strong storms, causes a swirl of sea water, churning saltier water from deeper parts of the ocean up to the top. Aj Willingham, CNN, "Seals with antennas on their heads helped scientists solve an Antarctic mystery," 11 June 2019 Famous for its awe-inspiring stripes and swirls, Jupiter is fifth in line from the sun and the largest planet in the solar system. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Jupiter ‘looks fantastic’ in June skywatching line-up," 6 June 2019 Make peanut butter swirl: In a heatproof bowl, microwave peanut butter on high for 30 seconds. Stir in melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Drizzle over brownie better, then use a knife to swirl. Marie Claire, "You Can Put CBD in That: Chocolatey Peanut Butter Brownies," 19 Apr. 2019 Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, and swirl to coat the pan with the oil. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "Pack up a picnic of Spanish tapas to feed a crowd," 3 July 2018 Just two days after it was reported that Good Morning America co-anchor Lara Spencer would be cutting back on her airtime, rumors are starting to swirl. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Lara Spencer's "Good Morning America" Decision Has Upset Viewers Big Time," 17 Apr. 2018 In the energetic swirl of allegorical motifs and internal references, in smearing the line between figuration and abstraction, Kokoschka emerges as a forerunner of artists like R.B. Kitaj and Georg Baselitz. A.j. Goldmann, WSJ, "‘Oskar Kokoschka—Expressionist, Migrant, European. A Retrospective’ Review: Longevity as Blessing and Curse," 2 Jan. 2019 Sunday Folks Known for their decadent waffles topped with tall swirls of soft serve, Sunday Folks is the most popular ice cream and dessert café for miles–– and perhaps the most Instagrammed as well. Annette Tan, Condé Nast Traveler, "16 Best Cafes in Singapore," 4 Mar. 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

7 Jul 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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a small bunch of flowers

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