\ˈhwər(-ə)l, 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



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 \ˈhwər-​lər, ˈwər-​ \ noun

Synonyms for whirl

Synonyms: Verb

agitate, churn, stir, swirl, wash

Synonyms: Noun

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

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Examples of whirl in a Sentence


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.


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 helicopter's twin blades will whirl at about 10 times the rate of a helicopter's blades on Earth — at 3,000 rpm — to stay aloft in Mars' thin atmosphere. Sarah Lewin, Space.com, "Yes, NASA Is Actually Sending a Helicopter to Mars: Here's What It Will Do," 12 May 2018 The other damaged construction equipment downtown, snaking between skyscrapers and whirling debris into the air. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Three-inch hail and multiple tornadoes raked the Sunshine State on Tuesday," 11 Apr. 2018 The video is as colorful and eccentric as Pump himself, with the rapper tackling the track's opening verse as a tornado of money flows out the back of an armored truck and whirls around him. Mackenzie Cummings-grady, Billboard, "Lil Pump Flexes On Everyone With a Truck Full of Money In Trippy 'ESSKEETIT' Music Video: Watch," 13 Apr. 2018 Shakeib Mashhood pushed out the first message on WhatsApp at 3:59 p.m. on Aug. 27, just as Hurricane Harvey whirled into Houston with torrential rains, thunderstorms and tornadoes. Monica Rhor, Houston Chronicle, "Katy man and his WhatsApp crew formed an army of helpers," 11 Apr. 2018 Another issue is whether Comey's critique about the President can penetrate the permanent storm that whirls around Trump and fundamentally reshape already polarized opinion about the President's behavior. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Trump now faces Comey's moral assault," 16 Apr. 2018 Duncan Robinson took a pass in the corner, rose for a three-pointer that fell through the basket and whirled around to momentarily watch his teammates commence Michigan’s celebration in earnest. Nathan Fenno, latimes.com, "Charles Matthews steps up for the Wolverines in regional final," 25 Mar. 2018 What’s more, audiences had taken to her style of dress: short skirts — cut two inches above the knee, according to the Associated Press at the time — that whirled up in the air around her waist during spins. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, "The world’s first Olympic ice queen became a Hollywood star — and a Hitler admirer," 21 Feb. 2018 The lasers whirling above the dancers’ heads — more fit for Allstate Arena than the Athenaeum Theatre — were equally unpolished, seeming to turn on and off willy-nilly. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, "Tap Theatre’s fun diva spectacle needs rehearsal, and maybe a diva," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 But Mnangagwa's firing in November led to a whirl of events that saw the military step in, Mugabe resign amid impeachment proceedings and Mnangagwa take power. Cara Anna, Fox News, "A guide to Zimbabwe's 1st post-Robert Mugabe election," 27 July 2018 But authorities and weather experts are still horrified by a rare event that took place within the fire: a fire vortex, also known as a fire whirl or a fire torando. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "What Is a Fire Tornado?," 3 Aug. 2018 In a blender or food processor, place the basil and the oil; whirl until pureed. Grace Young, ELLE Decor, "Spanish Culinary Ambassador," 5 July 2012 Indeed, a whirl in the blender turns any of these concoctions into a summery drink. Aleksandra Crapanzano, WSJ, "The 5-Minute Dessert of the Summer," 12 July 2018 But now, during the first year and a half of her ex-husband’s presidency, Ms. Trump has been on the periphery of the Trump universe that had once put the couple in a social whirl of the brightest lights and the biggest names. James Barron, New York Times, "Ivana Trump, In and Out of the Spotlight," 26 June 2018 Greenberg was already a familiar figure in the city's social whirl. Manuel Roig-franzia And Rosalind S. Helderman, chicagotribune.com, "Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign," 17 June 2018 Greenberg was already a familiar figure in the city's social whirl. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign," 17 June 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near whirl

whip up







Statistics for whirl

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for whirl

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

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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, 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

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

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having a pattern of small flowers

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