\ 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 whirl (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 The hammer can be captivating to watch, as contestants violently whirl around in tight circles, on the brink of losing control, before letting fly. Oliver Staley, Quartz, 24 July 2021 Gravitational wave detectors sense tiny fleeting ripples in space itself when massive astrophysical objects, such as black holes, whirl together and collide. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, 2 July 2021 Early summer proves the perfect time to cook a batch of homemade tomato ketchup, whirl up fresh mayonnaise and enhance everything with fresh herbs. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 21 June 2021 Some children immediately tore off their face coverings and sprinted away to whirl on the tire swing, or clamber over the spiderweb, or hunt for cicadas just emerging from their hiding holes in the ground, said principal Brenda Jochems. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2021 As the pan heats up and sizzling begins, shake and whirl it occasionally to coat kernels in flavor-country glory and spread them in one layer. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 14 Jan. 2021 At his Atwater Village studio, something of a percolating laboratory for art and activism, early versions of the works bubble and whirl inside two tents. Deborah Vankin Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 9 Nov. 2020 The Twitter grist mill started to whirl into action, feeding off the negative energy. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 25 Oct. 2020 Puppeteers operate them by stepping into wooden shoulder harnesses and then twirl and whirl in parades and protests around the country. Jennifer Barger, National Geographic, 19 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The week includes a social whirl with a fish fry, steak fry, live bands and a beer garden, as well as putting and long-driving contests. John Reinan, Star Tribune, 24 July 2021 Created by cool air rushing to take the place of hot air, the whirl's spinning can hurl embers and sparks great distances. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 20 July 2021 Shouting over the whirl of a loud motor is a thing of the past. Popular Mechanics, 16 July 2021 Smith couldn’t say how long the visible whirl lasted, but noted that the radar captured as much as 30 minutes of rotation. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 8 July 2021 Amid a current whirl of conspiracy theories, flagrant lies from Trump world and in the bitter overhang of the 2020 election and the last, aberrant presidency, Biden's toughest task may be convincing the red half of the country that's true. Stephen Collinson, CNN, 29 Apr. 2021 At one point Saturday afternoon, a fire whirl was reported at the southern end of Constantia Road as the fire backed down an escarpment. Alex Wigglesworth, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2021 Staff Writer Janelle Randazza gave no less than a dozen Glossier products a whirl, testing everything from cleansers and face masks to serums and mascaras. Christine Persaud, USA TODAY, 12 June 2021 The crunch is akin to snack mix; my brain initially bucks at the whirl of flavors but then wants more. Bill Addison, Los Angeles Times, 24 June 2021

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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Last Updated

30 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whirl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whirl. Accessed 31 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for whirl



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.

More from Merriam-Webster on whirl

Nglish: Translation of whirl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whirl for Arabic Speakers


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