\ 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

Additionally, drama has swirled around its top leadership, which has witnessed a wave of resignations, un-resignations and even re-resignations. Dave Orrick, Twin Cities, "Departing Minnesota DHS commissioner says state should break up the agency," 30 Aug. 2019 Speculation has swirled over the decision by Obama to so far refrain from endorsing Biden formally. Fox News, "Charlie Hurt: Biden's gaffes must be 'hugely embarrassing' to Obama," 19 Aug. 2019 For years, speculation has swirled about what would become of it stately three-story structure adorned in red brick masonry. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Plans to redevelop Denver’s historic Evans School no longer just academic, potential buyers say," 7 Aug. 2019 Speculation about Mugabe's health has swirled amid his visits to Singapore for treatment, but this is the first time the government has disclosed how long he's spent at the hospital. Bukola Adebayo, CNN, "Ex-Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is still under observation after 4 months at a Singapore hospital," 6 Aug. 2019 Speculation has swirled in the TV industry that David Pingalore, formerly of WKMG-Channel 6, might return to Orlando for the WESH job. Hal Boedeker, orlandosentinel.com, "WESH names Daren Stoltzfus new sports director," 16 July 2019 But speculation has swirled within the technology world for months that Amazon was interested in buying the startup outright. Michael J. De La Merced, BostonGlobe.com, "Amazon’s Deliveroo investment is halted for UK scrutiny," 5 July 2019 The prospect of regulatory scrutiny has swirled around Facebook’s Libra project and the entire social-media operation, which could weigh on shares of the company and its payment partners. Gunjan Banerji, WSJ, "PayPal’s Stock Drops After Management Move," 21 June 2019 Speculation had swirled over whether Xi would attend the celebrations following three visits to China this year by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Christopher Bodeen, The Seattle Times, "China’s Xi to send top ally to North Korea anniversary," 4 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Creating intricate swoops and swirls along our hairline may not require a paintbrush, but the skill calls for a brush none the less. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "3 Top Tips For Laying Your Edges," 28 Aug. 2019 Leterrier's camera swirls and soars over this dynamic planet. Mark Kennedy, chicagotribune.com, "Netflix offers fans a faithful return to ‘The Dark Crystal’," 27 Aug. 2019 But there’s a catch: an animal must be the one responsible for the sculpture and can use nothing but its tongue to shape divots, swirls and whorls into the 50-pound square block. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "Who Says Horses and Cows Can’t Be Artists?," 21 Aug. 2019 Top each serving with generous spoonfuls of the cheese and parsley, as well as big swirls of the olive oil. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "How to make processed foods healthier," 14 Aug. 2019 The near-infrared images loop and swirl like impressionist paintings, showing distinct bright streaks in the clouds that trace the movement of aerosols emitted by wildfires, human emissions, and volcanoes. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Aerosol emissions may not cool the planet as much as we thought," 1 Aug. 2019 Add a teaspoon of soy sauce and swirl gently so that the soy sauce runs under the yolk. Los Angeles Times, "Hammam Bay Leaf Rice With Soy-Cured Egg Yolks," 24 July 2019 Cool down with offbeat flavors imagined by former wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason: chorizo caramel swirl, burnt marshmallow, black pepper fig, and a limited-edition basil chip flavor created by Fox & the Knife’s Karen Akunowicz. Kara Baskin, BostonGlobe.com, "Louis DiBiccari opens a lounge with craft cocktails and artwork in Somerville’s Bow Market," 8 Aug. 2019 As Richard Strauss strings swell and David Byrne narrates, the viewer is assaulted with surreal images of Triple Chaser canisters against colorful spots, swirls, and Mondrian rectangles. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Using AI, and Film, to Track Tear Gas Use Against Civilians," 25 July 2019

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

15 Sep 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

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).


to make a temporary encampment

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