\ˈhwȯr(-ə)l, ˈwȯr(-ə)l, ˈ(h)wər(-ə)l \

Definition of whorl 

1 : a drum-shaped section on the lower part of a spindle in spinning or weaving machinery serving as a pulley for the tape drive that rotates the spindle

2 : an arrangement of similar anatomical parts (such as leaves) in a circle around a point on an axis

3 : something that whirls, coils, or spirals or whose form suggests such movement : swirl whorls of snow

4 : one of the turns of a univalve shell

5 : a fingerprint in which the central papillary ridges turn through at least one complete circle

Examples of whorl in a Sentence

the whorls and eddies of the river the whorl of a fingerprint

Recent Examples on the Web

This whorl of igneous material became a vineyard 20 years ago, when brothers Peter and Arpad Molnar first planted Cabernet Sauvignon here. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "The rise of the Red Hills of Lake County," 1 June 2018 In at least half a dozen protoplanetary disks, something seems be winding gas and dust into seashell whorls like the arms of spiral galaxies. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "These Spinning Disks of Gas and Dust Reveal How Planets Get Made," 28 May 2018 Quickly stir in vanilla and spread over cooked rhubarb filling, shaping into pretty swoops and whorls. Anna Thomas Bates, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A recipe swap is still a great way to add to your collection," 23 May 2018 That movement is visible in the whorl that extends beyond the coil’s silhouette, a display of energy amidst the decaying environment of the box where Shellenberger captured the image. Lydia Horne, WIRED, "This Photo Was Made With Radiation From Vintage Dishes," 9 May 2018 Oryx’ As Anteloper, the drummer Jason Nazary and the trumpeter Jaimie Branch steer their acoustic instruments through an atmosphere of electric whorls and beats and grounding tones. New York Times, "The Playlist: Prince’s Own ‘Nothing Compares 2 U,’ and 12 More New Songs," 20 Apr. 2018 Rela adapted the design of baroque scotias on the posts of a park outside to fashion a large whorl over the front entrance. Elisabeth Malkin, ELLE Decor, "House Tour: A Bohemian Retreat In San Miguel de Allende Reflects Local Traditions," 20 Feb. 2018 From the fish tanks come the Dungeness crabs and whorls of eel, the flesh fluffy and preening from the heat of the wok. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "Where Dumplings and Ducks Rule," 21 Sep. 2017 These 2- to 3-foot whorls of stems and leaves, which dangle from tree branches, are like an Airbnb for the avian crowd. George Ball, WSJ, "Mistletoe Is an Endangered Species," 21 Dec. 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for whorl

Middle English wharle, whorle, probably alteration of whirle, from whirlen to whirl

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Time Traveler for whorl

The first known use of whorl was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of whorl

: something that turns or goes around in a circle

: a pattern that is made by a series of circles that turn around a center point

: an arrangement of leaves, petals, etc., that forms a circle around a stem


\ˈhwȯrl, ˈwȯrl, ˈhwərl, ˈwərl\

Kids Definition of whorl

1 : a row of parts (as leaves or petals) encircling a stem

2 : something that whirls or winds a whorl of smoke


\ˈhwor(-ə)l, ˈwȯr(-ə)l, ˈ(h)wər(-ə)l\

Medical Definition of whorl 

: a fingerprint in which the central papillary ridges turn through at least one complete turn

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Comments on whorl

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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