\ 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 While the southern sea otter captures the attention of younger visitors, the symbol of the aquarium is another Monterey Bay icon: a whorl of kelp. Andrew Robinson, Scientific American, 21 July 2022 The warm, pillowy pita is perfect, especially for swiping through baba ghanoush and the hummus, a generous whorl finished with olive oil, za’atar, and parsley. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, 15 July 2022 For many volunteers, the service provided an outlet for a whorl of emotions that linger two decades later. Lauren Hernandez, Danielle Echeverria, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 Sep. 2021 The researchers speculate that Netherton’s inhabitants deliberately placed other objects, like gaming pieces, a spindle whorl and a whetstone, near the dagger for practical or ritualistic reasons. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 May 2021 Through it all, no one found a better specimen that depicted where the whorl was located. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 2 Apr. 2021 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, 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, 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, 13 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Whorl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/whorl. Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for whorl


\ 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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