\ ˈ(h)wȯr(-ə)l How to pronounce whorl (audio) , 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 What the researchers found were traces of cartilage around the jaw in the rock, remnants of the skull as well as the jaws that held the tooth whorl. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Prehistoric Sharks Had Jaws Shaped Like Circular Saws and Sawtoothed Scissors," 2 Apr. 2021 But Wallace recognized the stone as an authentic Viking-era spindle whorl, a small stone that was fixed to the end of a rod used to spin thread. Sarah Durn, Smithsonian Magazine, "Did a Viking Woman Named Gudrid Really Travel to North America in 1000 A.D.?," 3 Mar. 2021 As my sight adjusted, shapes emerged: subtle whorls that resembled a pinwheel twirling through countless pinpricks of light. Erin E. Williams, Washington Post, "In the Central Oregon desert, an observatory with out-of-this-world views," 13 Sep. 2019 Meticulously arrayed, the echoing curves suggest fingerprint whorls or ripples on lakes and ponds. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Disrupting and denaturing the concept of comfortable at home," 13 Mar. 2020 Bustles and hoops and towering Marie Antoinette hair played a part; shepherdesses in loops and whorls of shell pink and baby blue, each swirling and twirling and waving what looked like a wand with a miniature straw hat on the top. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "Blood, Money, Oil. And Clothes.," 30 Sep. 2019 The major question was turbulence, a specific pattern of movement where big bursts of energy break up into smaller whorls, which then split into smaller eddies, distributing energy all the way down to the scale of individual particles. Quanta Magazine, "Astronomers Find Black Holes Stirring Up the Biggest Galaxies," 12 Dec. 2019 And by investigating how these biological whorls lived, perhaps experts can develop a better understanding of why ammonoids disappeared tens of millions of years ago. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Video Game-Inspired Models Demonstrate How Prehistoric Squid Relatives Swam Through the Seas," 27 Nov. 2019 Medlar is a small tree whose single, large, white blossoms are cradled in a whorl of forest-green leaves. Washington Post, "Try something new with uncommonly delicious (and ugly) fruit," 5 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for whorl

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for whorl

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Whorl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whorl. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for whorl



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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