whir

verb
\ ˈhwər How to pronounce whir (audio) , ˈwər\
variants: or less commonly whirr
whirred; whirring

Definition of whir

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to fly, revolve, or move rapidly with a whir hummingbirds whirring past

transitive verb

: to move or carry rapidly with a whir

whir

noun
variants: or less commonly whirr

Definition of whir (Entry 2 of 2)

: a continuous fluttering or vibratory sound made by something in rapid motion the whir of machinery

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for whir

Synonyms: Verb

bumble, burr, buzz, drone, hum, whish, whiz (or whizz), zip, zoom

Synonyms: Noun

burr, buzz, chirr, churr, drone, hum, purr, thrum, whiz (or whizz), zoom

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of whir in a Sentence

Verb

the hummingbird whirred as it hovered over a flower our tires whirred as we traveled over the rough road

Noun

the whir of a fan a whir coming from the refrigerator
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The London makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, whirring airbrush tool in hand, was making her mark with painterly smudges and bandit-like masks around many of the models' eyes. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Eckhaus Latta Brings Back the Airbrush With Painterly Color-Clash Makeup," 9 Feb. 2019 The 200 bright-red bikes from Jump, part of Uber Technologies Inc., include a technology that could entice more people to ride—an electric motor that whirs into action as soon as the bike detects that its rider needs a boost. Paul Berger, WSJ, "Bronx Gets Bike-Share Program with Electric ‘Pedal Assist’," 30 July 2018 After a moment, the remaining nine rotors start whirring, a flock of mowers. Dan Neil, WSJ, "The First Flying-Car Review," 12 Sep. 2018 Yet Washington’s bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless – working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump’s whim. Philip Rucker, The Seattle Times, "Officials scramble to make Trump’s false assertions real," 23 Oct. 2018 The companies just whir them all together and dump out the cumbersome pulp instead. Christine Lennon, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Hunger Games," 11 June 2012 Meanwhile, the Robocar and its four 135kW electric motors eventually whirred up the hill in about 1 minute and 16 seconds. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "Robot racecars storm the most glamorous hill in motorsports," 3 Aug. 2018 For a third dish, whir a hearty spread of white beans and tahini in a food processor and spike it with plenty of lemon; the puree is similar to hummus. Sally Pasley Vargas, BostonGlobe.com, "Prepare several mezze plates for this rehearsal dinner, which won’t cost a crazy amount of money," 4 June 2018 Add sweetened condensed milk, honey, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; pulse, occasionally scraping side of bowl, until smooth and whirring around blade in continuous wave. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Easiest-Ever Fruit and Coconut Ice Cream," 27 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

At night, the faintest whir of helicopter blades would jolt her from bed; wounded were on the way. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018 While mass-production building whirs away, custom homes have been a slower project across the rest of the region: The lots are less uniform, the terrain is more rugged, and the fire-safety design standards in many cases are more stringent. Susie Cagle, Curbed, "California’s changing fire country," 10 Oct. 2018 Rowing has a meditative effect, with its rhythmic motion and surreal quiet, apart from breathing, faint splashes, and the whir of the seat rolling back and forth. Marcia Desanctis, Town & Country, "Rowing Is a Full-Body Workout You Can Do at Any Age," 23 June 2017 On July 10, a helicopter’s lights shone down on the town of Mae Sai, its whir breaking through the night sky. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "‘Time is running out’: Inside the treacherous rescue of boys trapped in a Thai cave," 13 July 2018 But down in the living room was just the whir of the record, spinning past the last song, the needle arm retired to the side. Rebecca Makkai, chicagotribune.com, "An excerpt from 'The Great Believers' by Rebecca Makkai: 1985," 21 May 2018 Out the window, a helicopter whirs past CenturyLink Field, where Wilson compiled half of his MVP-caliber 2017 season, his sixth as the Seahawks’ QB. Jamie Lisanti, SI.com, "Fashionable 50," 10 July 2018 As fire hoses pump the retardant into awaiting LVATs, the bridge above the pumps vibrates, echoing the colossal whir of the tanker's engine. Julia Sclafani And Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Seen those tankers above Sacramento? The low-down on Cal Fire's biggest base at McClellan," 3 July 2018 Around him mechanical cranes whir, hoisting employees looking for products on towering shelves. Nomaan Merchant, Cincinnati.com, "Hunger, fear, desperation: What came of an ordinary ICE raid in Covington," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'whir.' 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 whir

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

Noun

1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for whir

Verb

Middle English (Scots) quirren, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Danish hvirre to whirl, whir

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about whir

Dictionary Entries near whir

whip top

whip up

whipworm

whir

whirl

whirlabout

whirlbat

Statistics for whir

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whir

The first known use of whir was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for whir

whir

noun

English Language Learners Definition of whir

: the sound made by something that is spinning very fast

whir

verb
\ ˈhwər How to pronounce whir (audio) , ˈwər\
whirred; whirring

Kids Definition of whir

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to fly, operate, or turn rapidly with a buzzing sound … the machines stopped whirring, and from then on, not a single chocolate … was made.— Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

whir

noun

Kids Definition of whir (Entry 2 of 2)

: a buzzing sound made by something spinning or operating quickly

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on whir

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whir

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whir

Spanish Central: Translation of whir

Nglish: Translation of whir for Spanish Speakers

Comments on whir

What made you want to look up whir? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!