\ 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 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, "Science + social justice + magic. The spellbinding formula of artist Glenn Kaino," 9 Nov. 2020 The Twitter grist mill started to whirl into action, feeding off the negative energy. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football flips script to manhandle Minnesota in season opener," 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, "These paper crafts bring the party on Day of the Dead," 19 Oct. 2020 In her eponymous Miss Ly Cafe in Hoi An, Vietnam, Miss Ly rests as staffers cook and whirl behind her. Star Tribune, "Peek into Miss Ly Cafe, which turns out the best food in Hoi An, Vietnam," 9 Oct. 2020 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The constant whirl of political activity in this pivotal swing state has only intensified with little more than a month to go before the election. Julie Bosman, New York Times, "Wisconsin Is Frazzled by Surging Virus Cases and Growing Campaign Frenzy," 1 Oct. 2020 The Orlando Philharmonic, which opened its season in Exploria Stadium, gave The Grove at Mead Botanical Garden a whirl. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, "At 2 outdoor concerts, different strokes for different folks | Reviews," 26 Oct. 2020 After dehydrating the grits in a toaster oven, slightly cracked open — at its lowest setting for a couple hours — and then a whirl through a Vitamix, the flour was ready to use. Vanessa Hua, SFChronicle.com, "Uncovering the charms of Bay Area nuts," 15 Oct. 2020 The region was torched just two years ago by the deadly Carr Fire — infamously remembered for producing a huge tornado-like fire whirl. The Salt Lake Tribune, "Three killed in Northern California wildfire; thousands flee," 29 Sep. 2020 The region was torched just two years ago by the deadly Carr Fire -- infamously remembered for producing a huge tornado-like fire whirl. Fox News, "Northern California wildfire: 3 dead, thousands flee," 29 Sep. 2020 Amid the whirl of generators and chainsaws, shop owners were still struggling to tally up the potential losses and chart a path forward. Bryn Stole | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "After slow, destructive Hurricane Sally, coastal Alabama, Florida Panhandle towns pick up pieces," 17 Sep. 2020 The worst storm surge is to the east of a hurricane's eyewall because of the combination of the storm's counterclockwise whirl and northward movement. Seth Borenstein, Star Tribune, "A wobble, luck and preparations lessened Laura's devastation," 28 Aug. 2020 Novices probably should not attempt it, but mid-level bakers could certainly give it a whirl. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Kouigns amann may be the best pastry you will ever have," 11 Sep. 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

14 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Whirl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whirl. Accessed 24 Nov. 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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