\ ˈ(h)wər(-ə)l How to pronounce whirl (audio) \
whirled; whirling; whirls

Definition of whirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to move in a circle or similar curve especially with force or speed
2a : to turn on or around an axis like a wheel : rotate
b : to turn abruptly around or aside : wheel whirled around in surprise
3 : to pass, move, or go quickly whirled down the hallway
4 : to become giddy or dizzy : reel my head is whirling

transitive verb

1 : to drive, impel, or convey with or as if with a rotary motion
2a : to cause to turn usually rapidly on or around an axis : rotate
b : to cause to turn abruptly around or aside
3 obsolete : to throw or hurl violently with a revolving motion



Definition of whirl (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a rapid rotating or circling movement
b : something undergoing such a movement
2a : a busy or fast-paced succession of events : bustle a whirl of activity the social whirl
b : a confused or disturbed mental state : turmoil a whirl of febrile excitement— Emily Skeel
3 : an experimental or brief attempt : try gave it a whirl

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Other Words from whirl


whirler \ ˈ(h)wər-​lər How to pronounce whirler (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for whirl

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of whirl in a Sentence

Verb The cars were whirling around the track. Clothes were whirling in the washing machine. The water whirled around the drain. Her dance partner whirled her around. Noun My head was in a whirl. the whirl of the mechanical ride made him dizzy
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb While the seasons may whirl around like June bugs, memories remain. Rick Bragg, Southern Living, "Why Summers Last Forever in the South," 19 June 2020 The fire whirls start in a 12-foot tall glass cylinder about four feet in diameter. Jayme Moye, Popular Mechanics, "Our Parents Told Us Not to Play With Fire. Thankfully, These Scientists Didn’t Listen.," 30 Jan. 2020 Many of us had seen fire whirls, dust-devil-sized rotating columns of fire, and did not regard them as particularly dangerous. Jason M. Forthofer, Scientific American, "Can Scientists Predict Fire Tornadoes?," 20 Nov. 2019 The garlic and ginger can be minced, crushed or, again, whirled to a paste. James P. Dewan, chicagotribune.com, "How to make chana masala, a fragrant Indian dish of chickpeas and spices," 21 Oct. 2019 Their out-of-the-blue split left fans whirling, something Moore understands. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "RHOA's Kenya Moore Breaks Silence on Split from Husband, Says There's 'No Proof' of Infidelity," 30 Oct. 2019 Bavel whirls together Israeli, Egyptian, Moroccan and Southern California flavors; there will be a variation on hummus and a sunny centerpiece like chicken leg fragrant with saffron or short rib tagine over couscous. Los Angeles Times, "Looking for special occasion takeout? Our critic has 15 suggestions," 15 Apr. 2020 The ceiling is simple white acoustic tiles, though a few have been redone as colorful and seemingly random, overhead murals, set around whirling ceiling fans, so do not forget to look up. Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, "In New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Save room for a trip to the Li'l Dizzy's Café buffet," 25 Feb. 2020 Posted by CHP - Crescent City on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 Drivers on Interstate 5 near the Oregon-California border spent 17 hours or more in stopped traffic as blizzard conditions whirled outside. CBS News, ""Bomb cyclone" and snow cause travel delays on Thanksgiving," 28 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun These words stir up a stomach-crunching whirl of emotions in me, starting at disbelief and disappointment and going all the way over to exasperation and resentment. Michele Barnwell, Good Housekeeping, "Why It’s So Important to Understand and Confront Microaggressions," 4 Aug. 2020 One last whirl around the world for this unmatched identical twin doubles team. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, "The Bryan Brothers Were Ready to Call It Quits. Now They Might Need One Last Hug.," 11 July 2020 Give these techniques a whirl with the 17 best setting powders listed below, all of which are makeup artist and beauty editor favorites. Devon Abelman, Allure, "The 17 Best Setting Powders That Won’t Let You Down," 10 July 2020 After an agonizingly slow rollout, this long-time Google Music user gave the service a whirl and is back to report: this is going to be a mess. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "With YouTube Music, Google is holding my speakers for ransom," 24 June 2020 The pandemic brought the whirl of the culture industry to a halt. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Will Reshape Architecture," 17 June 2020 Pausing amid the whirl of activity in her downtown Mobile restaurant on Thursday, Erica Barrett took stock. al, "‘It’s a rebirth:’ Mobile restaurant changes its game amid epidemic," 12 June 2020 One Vogue editor gave its recipes a whirl with surprising results; why not wrap up a copy for the busy mom in your life? Marley Marius, Vogue, "11 Cookbooks for Every Foodie on Your List," 15 Nov. 2018 In the chaotic whirl of another campaign day, no one, apparently, was taking as much notice of the handsome 30-year-old as Bettylu Saltzman. Amy Saltzman, Washington Post, "She was a trusted behind-the-scenes force in Chicago politics. Then she met a young Barack Obama, in whom she saw vast potential.," 6 May 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for whirl


Middle English, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse hvirfla to whirl; akin to Old High German wirbil whirlwind, Old English hweorfan to turn — more at wharf

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Time Traveler for whirl

Time Traveler

The first known use of whirl was in the 14th century

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Statistics for whirl

Last Updated

23 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whirl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whirl. Accessed 14 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for whirl


How to pronounce whirl (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of whirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to move or go in a circle or curve especially with force or speed
: to turn rapidly in circles
: to turn quickly and suddenly



English Language Learners Definition of whirl (Entry 2 of 2)

: a fast turning movement
: something that is turning quickly in circles
: a state of busy movement or activity


\ ˈhwərl How to pronounce whirl (audio) , ˈwərl \
whirled; whirling

Kids Definition of whirl

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to turn or move in circles rapidly
2 : to feel dizzy After the ride my head whirled.
3 : to move or carry around rapidly



Kids Definition of whirl (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a rapid movement in circles
2 : something that is or seems to be moving in circles a whirl of dust
3 : a state of busy movement : bustle
4 : a brief or experimental try I've never tried, but I'll give it a whirl.

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More from Merriam-Webster on whirl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for whirl

Spanish Central: Translation of whirl

Nglish: Translation of whirl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whirl for Arabic Speakers

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