\ 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

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 One night, as outside winds stirred up dusty whorls of snow in the parking lot, whipped across the plains and over the treaty land where the camps had been, inside felt briefly desolate, too. Rebecca Bengal, Vogue, "The Power of Nathan Phillips’s Song," 21 Jan. 2019 The other is a sinuous sheath of silk crepe topped with a huge cumulus whorl or wreath of ruched silk gazar. Laura Jacobs, WSJ, "‘Balenciaga in Black’ Review: Fashion Goes to the Dark Side," 9 Oct. 2018 Over this time, Ren’s analysis shows, the whorls may have rotated ever so slightly, at about six tenths of a degree per year. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "These Spinning Disks of Gas and Dust Reveal How Planets Get Made," 28 May 2018 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

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

10 Mar 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

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).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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