whirl

verb
\ ˈhwər(-ə)l How to pronounce whirl (audio) , ˈwər(-ə)l\
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

whirl

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from whirl

Verb

whirler \ ˈhwər-​lər How to pronounce whirler (audio) , ˈwər-​ \ noun

Synonyms for whirl

Synonyms: Verb

agitate, churn, stir, swirl, wash

Synonyms: Noun

gyration, pirouette, reel, revolution, roll, rotation, spin, twirl, wheel

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The wind seems to be propelling her, tugging at her, so that at one point her hair tumbles free, her dress whirls. The New York Review of Books, "Lisa Appignanesi," 9 May 2019 Nor do any of Janowski’s current rivals in this repertory have his knack for clarifying the ripe harmonies and rich scoring of the Venusberg bacchanal, while in no way diminishing the music’s whirling sensuality. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Marek Janowski's belated CSO downtown debut sends electric charge through Orchestra Hall," 1 June 2018 The momentum builds; saris begin whirling off the shelves. Meara Sharma, Vogue, "Why I Am Taking the Sari Back to the Street," 30 Apr. 2019 The pilot tried to calm the cabin, but amid the screams, the engine noise and the whirling outside air, passengers struggled to hear, said Amy Serafini, who was in Row 15. Eliott C. Mclaughlin, CNN, "How passengers, pilots kept crippled Southwest Flight 1380 from turning deadlier," 22 Apr. 2018 On Saturday-morning TV, Aquaman always seemed to be hurling whirling balls of water. Thomas Vinciguerra, WSJ, "I Want to Be Aquaman When I Grow Up . . .," 13 Dec. 2018 Bruno Frisoni found a tall fez in a collection forming a stylish tablescape and spent most of the evening whirling like a dervish in it. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Attends Serdar Gülgün’s Opulent Ottoman Ball in Istanbul," 4 Feb. 2019 Regular helicopters use their main rotors for lift while the tail rotor stabilizes the helicopter and prevents it from whirling like a top. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Potential Blackhawk Replacement Starts Ground Tests," 2 Feb. 2019 Through a thumping mix of pop songs and ballads, the Fearleaders in their blue-and-orange outfits whirled around the floor. Nina Adam, WSJ, "Female Roller Derby Skaters Are Fearless—So Are Their Male Cheerleaders," 7 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The growing acceptance of marijuana use in Canada and much of the U.S. has sparked a whirl of recent deal activity. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Marijuana Company Is Pressed to Make Deal by Activist Investor," 6 Sep. 2018 Astronomers have long hypothesized that other planets in our solar system have impacts here on Earth, shifting its whirl around the sun from nearly circular to five percent elliptical. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Venus and Jupiter May Meddle With Earth’s Orbit and Climate," 10 May 2018 Or had the full moon moved them to whirl and the animal to wail? Lance Esplund, WSJ, "A Life-Changing Art Encounter," 23 Nov. 2018 The supermodel stuck to her word, and gave the moo-moo nail trend a whirl. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Cow Print Nail Art Is a Thing Now, Thanks to Kendall Jenner and Ariana Grande," 25 Mar. 2019 The lucky bride, Stacy, took the dance floor with her new husband and seemed (understandably) a little nervous for their first whirl as newlyweds. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Kelly Clarkson Surprised a Bride with an Emotional Performance of 'Piece by Piece' and We're Sobbing," 21 Aug. 2018 The whirl uprooted trees and tore roofs from homes, Dykema said. Paul Elias, Fox News, "Weather to bring renewed fire danger to Northern California," 4 Aug. 2018 With this in mind, Peter Crouch's apparent decision to give Stoke and the Championship another whirl is the right one. SI.com, "Why Peter Crouch May be Right to Stay at Stoke City," 8 July 2018 Firefighters battle a fire whirl in the Carr Fire on July 26. Dylan Moriarty, WSJ, "Rare ‘Fire Whirl’ Landed in California, Officials Say," 3 Aug. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of whirl

Verb

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

Noun

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

History and Etymology for whirl

Verb

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about whirl

Dictionary Entries near whirl

whip up

whipworm

whir

whirl

whirlabout

whirlbat

whirlblast

Statistics for whirl

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whirl

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for whirl

whirl

verb

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

whirl

noun

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

whirl

verb
\ 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

whirl

noun

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on whirl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

Comments on whirl

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

WORD OF THE DAY

having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!