\ ˈ(h)wər How to pronounce whir (audio) \
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


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

Synonyms for whir

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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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 Both sound documents manage to simultaneously distort and heighten reality, some strains melting together in a dreamy gauze while others whir on loop in the brain’s hamster wheel. Hannah Edgar, chicagotribune.com, 3 Dec. 2021 Make ahead, so the flavors intensify, then quickly whir with an immersion blender to reincorporate everything before serving. Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2021 And there are two 3D printers that whir into action as students make attachments to use with protective masks. Vincent T. Davis, ExpressNews.com, 10 Aug. 2020 The officer provided the phone number of a nearby resident, telling the owner to call it the next time his motion-sensing security cameras whirred into action. Richard Fausset, New York Times, 16 May 2020 Slightly bigger than a medium-sized dog, the six-wheeled robots whir around delivering snacks and meals throughout the day. Brandi Addison, Dallas News, 7 May 2020 Neighbors came out to witness and capture the procession on their cellphones while helicopters, including a U.S. Customs & Border Patrol black hawk, whirred loudly overhead. Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press, 25 Apr. 2020 Sanitizer whirred past by the thousands, enough to make an Amazon shopper weep. Lizzie Johnson, SFChronicle.com, 27 Mar. 2020 One afternoon in mid-November, two New York Times designers watched as streams of pinks, oranges, blues and greens whirred by. Danya Issawi, New York Times, 30 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Mayo said the cooling systems sound similar to the whir of a home air conditioning unit, except there are dozens of them operating nonstop. Paulina Pineda, The Arizona Republic, 22 Nov. 2021 The brassy horns and rumbling drums were softened by the metallic whir of seven standing fans, nearly twice as many as before the pandemic. BostonGlobe.com, 13 Aug. 2021 Their laughter bursts gleefully across the grinding, metallic whir of crickets and static, and their cat’s ears poke up along the bottom of the screen. Melanie Canales, Wired, 29 Nov. 2021 The whir of the refrigerator disappears, and the restless shadow of the ceiling fan attains a state of uncanny calm. Hurmat Kazmi, The Atlantic, 23 Nov. 2021 Speaking through the whir of a tattoo needle and over the raspy vocals of Michael Stipe and Kurt Cobain at Inked Miami tattoo studio, James Reed described the new ink being laid. Jim Owczarski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 Oct. 2021 State lawmakers control $2 trillion a year in spending and have a plate of issues, from prisons to schools to the opioid crisis, that can get lost in the whir of Washington politics. BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2021 Fans continue to whir in dank basements and dump trucks still make the rounds to haul away mildewed couches, squishy mattresses and now-useless electronics. CBS News, 23 Sep. 2021 Schrader achieves a richly atmospheric portrait of the poker tournament circuit, where the whir of roulette tables is interrupted by the whoops and hollers accompanying some of the game’s more flamboyant celebrities. Los Angeles Times, 9 Sep. 2021

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


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense


1677, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for whir


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

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Time Traveler for whir

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

7 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whir.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whir. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for whir



English Language Learners Definition of whir

: the sound made by something that is spinning very fast


\ 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



Kids Definition of whir (Entry 2 of 2)

: a buzzing sound made by something spinning or operating quickly

More from Merriam-Webster on whir

Nglish: Translation of whir for Spanish Speakers


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