\ ˈhwȯr(-ə)l How to pronounce whorl (audio) , ˈwȯr(-ə)l, ˈ(h)wər(-ə)l How to pronounce whorl (audio) \

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

Slender stems of Eurasian watermilfoil, bearing whorls of soft, feathery leaves, reach for the sky from the bed of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Johnny Simon, Quartz, "A year’s worth of surprising and poignant nature photos," 8 Sep. 2019 But there’s a catch: an animal must be the one responsible for the sculpture and can use nothing but its tongue to shape divots, swirls and whorls into the 50-pound square block. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian, "Who Says Horses and Cows Can’t Be Artists?," 21 Aug. 2019 Just cut the head, when harvesting, just above the bottom whorl of leaves. Washington Post, "Want a second crop of cabbage this season? 2 methods," 14 Aug. 2019 Her seasonal danishes are outstanding: whorls of buttery dough festooned with crunchy sugar crystals and filled with guava or strawberry-rhubarb jams. Chris Morocco, Bon Appétit, "Rockaway Beach Bakery Is the Real Reason I Go to the Beach," 9 Aug. 2019 Items discovered during the excavation include soapstone from the Shetland Islands, pottery and a bone spindle whorl. Fox News, "Viking drinking hall discovered on remote Scottish island," 8 Aug. 2019 The technology behind these systems is based on algorithms that create a unique code for each user based on their bioidentifiers—mapping the ridges and whorls of a fingertip or counting the pixels between a set of eyes. Amy Gamerman, WSJ, "Home Is Where They Know Your Name (and Face, Hands and Fingerprints)," 20 June 2019 These swirls then break into smaller swirls, with those swirls begetting ever-smaller whorls, an unpredictable cascade that dissipates the energy from the original smooth stream. Quanta Magazine, "The Trouble With Turbulence," 28 Jan. 2019 But while other phones such as the OnePlus 6T feature an optical sensor that uses light to read your fingerprint, the S10 uses sound waves to map the whorls and loops. Michael Simon, PCWorld, "10 Samsung Galaxy S10, S10e, and S10+ features that actually surprised us," 20 Feb. 2019

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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Statistics for whorl

Last Updated

22 Sep 2019

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


\ ˈhwȯrl How to pronounce whorl (audio) , 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 How to pronounce whorl (audio) , ˈwȯr(-ə)l How to pronounce whorl (audio) , 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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More from Merriam-Webster on whorl

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with whorl

Spanish Central: Translation of whorl

Nglish: Translation of whorl for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of whorl for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about whorl

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