whir

verb
\ˈhwər, 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

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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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

All the mechanisms whirring to keep this sweaty little Southern horror story going will likely lead Sharp Objects to the type of Emmy’s domination the Big Little Lies crew enjoyed last year. refinery29.com, "Sharp Objects Review: It’s Exactly What You Need During The Big Little Lies Drought," 5 July 2018 With clumps of people watching from their stoops or the sidewalk, fireworks whirred, popped and boomed just above the two-story houses near the 3500 block of 14th Street NW. Reis Thebault, Washington Post, "Fourth of July celebrations more meaningful, worrisome for some Americans," 4 July 2018 But that hasn’t stopped Bay Staters from regularly crossing into Seabrook and other New Hampshire towns before the Fourth of July and loading up on all manner of smoking, booming, spinning, and whirring explosives. J.d. Capelouto And Marek Mazurek, BostonGlobe.com, "Across N.H. border, business is booming at fireworks stores — with shoppers from Mass.," 3 July 2018 During the raid, helicopters whirred overhead, and officers from six law enforcement agencies swarmed the plant, the Salem News reported. Chrissie Thompson, Cincinnati.com, "ICE arrests 146 undocumented immigrants in Ohio raids at meat-packing plants," 20 June 2018 The machine whirred and beeped for a moment, then the door slid open with a clunk, and a robotic arm dispensed the appropriate currency. Spud Hilton, San Francisco Chronicle, "High-tech Vegas: Is your hotel room smarter than you?," 3 May 2018 First released two months after 9/11 with a spinning, magnetic hard drive that whirred audibly, the device was instrumental in turning Apple’s fortunes around. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "Apple's Airpods Are an Omen," 12 June 2018 For this dish, whir arugula with a little basil into a pesto — arugula gives the sauce an appealing, bitter edge — and thin the pesto with pasta cooking water. Karoline Boehm Goodnick, BostonGlobe.com, "Recipe: Think of this pasta with melted cherry tomatoes and arugula pesto as your new go-to dish," 11 June 2018 Banán makes luscious, yogurt-like soft serve from pure fruit that’s frozen and then whirred to creamy consistency. Ac Shilton, Outside Online, "Carissa Moore's Guide to Honolulu's Best Food," 23 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Every few minutes, the whir of a machine starting up can be heard in the background and a loud cheer goes up when someone lands a sick ariel or pops out of a barrel. Hemal Jhaveri, For The Win, "How Kelly Slater took surfing out of the ocean and onto dry land," 3 July 2018 Behind them, in the darkness, rescue workers toiled Sunday under the light of electric bulbs and amid the whir of drills and water pumps as the desperate search for 12 boys and their 25-year-old soccer coach continued for a ninth consecutive day. George Styllis, latimes.com, "Water pumps, drills and Buddhist prayers power desperate search for boys trapped in Thailand cave," 1 July 2018 Listen to the chirps, whirs and flutter of the creatures that still stir and witness the night-blooming plants. Sonja Haller, azcentral, "Best kids things to do in Phoenix in July: Splash pad parties, shark feeds and free fun," 28 June 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near whir

whip top

whip up

whipworm

whir

whirl

whirlabout

whirlbat

Statistics for whir

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Time Traveler for whir

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

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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, 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

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Comments on whir

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