Definition of whirl in English:

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Pronunciation: /wəːl/


1Move or cause to move rapidly round and round: [no object]: leaves whirled in eddies of wind [with object]: I whirled her round the dance hall (as adjective whirling) a vigorous whirling jig
More example sentences
  • The wind whistled through the trees, making the leaves whirl round Tanon's head.
  • Will I soon be going to Tea Dances at the village hall, whirling Mrs Skidmore round in a slow waltz in between the cups of weak Typhoo and the Garibaldi biscuits?
  • She kicked off her sandals and we started dancing; me whirling her round and round while her bare feet flew frivolously over the grass.
rotate, turn, turn round, go round, revolve, circle, wheel, orbit, pivot, swivel, gyrate, spin, roll, twirl, pirouette;
Scottish  birl
1.1Move or cause to move rapidly: [no object, with adverbial of direction]: Sybil stood waving as they whirled past figurative a kaleidoscope of images whirled through her brain
More example sentences
  • He slammed the brakes as the world whirled around and past him.
  • Whole afternoons must whirl past in a daze at Highgrove with hundreds of people rushing about.
  • The world whirled past me in a blur, and I didn't stop for anything.
hurry, speed, race, run, sprint, dash, bolt, dart, rush, hasten, hurtle, career, streak, shoot, whizz, zoom, go like lightning, go hell for leather, spank along, bowl along, rattle along, whoosh, buzz, swoop, flash, blast, charge, stampede, gallop, sweep, hare, fly, wing, scurry, scud, scutter, scramble
informal belt, pelt, tear, hotfoot it, leg it, zap, zip, whip, scoot, go like a bat out of hell
British informal bomb, bucket, shift, go like the clappers
Scottish informal wheech
North American informal clip, boogie, hightail, barrel
North American vulgar slang drag/tear/haul ass
literary fleet
archaic post, hie
1.2 [no object] (Of the head, mind, or senses) seem to spin round: Kate made her way back to the office, her mind whirling
More example sentences
  • It seemed as though her body was dissolving, and as the potency rose, that her mind was whirling, spinning free of her.
  • I stared out the window, my mind spinning and whirling.
  • He was once again stoic and calculating, the face was blank, but she could sense that behind it his mind was whirling.
spin, reel, go round, be in a whirl, swim, be/feel giddy, be/feel dizzy


1 [in singular] A rapid movement round and round.
Example sentences
  • The tempestuous whirl of circum-Antarctic waters is also responsible for their being among the most fertile in the world.
  • The rainbows of colour scattered around the room coupled with the whirl of the spinning wheels when they are put into motion is an amazing combination and makes for a very comfortable atmosphere.
  • The whirl of snow rises up next to me becoming bigger than life, completely engulfs me and quickly passes over.
swirl, flurry, eddy
1.1Frantic activity of a specified kind: the event was all part of the mad social whirl
More example sentences
  • My trip, which included Madeira and a whistle-stop tour of the Canary Islands, was filled with a controlled whirl of almost non-stop activities and fun.
  • But the breathless whirl of activity has an odd calm at its centre.
  • In a whirl of activity, the team boarded the aircraft with well over 500 pounds of precious lifesaving equipment.
hurly-burly, hectic activity, bustle, rush, flurry, to-do, fuss, panic, turmoil
archaic hurry-scurry
succession, series, sequence, progression, string, chain, cycle, round, merry-go-round
2 [with adjective or noun modifier] A specified kind of sweet or biscuit with a spiral shape: a hazelnut whirl
More example sentences
  • This is piped out into individual chocolate-size whirls and left to dry overnight.
  • A collection of male senior employees gather in the boardroom to talk to Balls over coffee and Viennese whirls.
  • Towards the end Alex pronounced herself bored and I caught myself trying to come up with a suitable answer to the question ‘how do you make a Viennese whirl?’



give something a whirl

informal Give something a try.
Example sentences
  • I haven't actually tried that particular trick before, but I thought I might give it a whirl and see what happens.
  • This service might not work for everyone but it is certainly worth registering for the seven-day free trial and giving it a whirl.
  • So do give the new album a whirl if you haven't yet, and try listening to it as a descendent of the 60's rather than the 70's and see what you think.
try, try-out, test
informal go, shot, bash, stab

in a whirl

In a state of confusion: Laura’s mind was in a whirl
More example sentences
  • My mind was in a whirl and I didn't know what to do.
  • Keziah sat down at the back of the group, her mind in a whirl.
  • His mind had been in a whirl since his brief meeting at the Devon house with Marie Devon and the enigmatic Lisa.
spin, daze, stupor, muddle, jumble;
informal dither



Example sentences
  • Five dancers emerged and performed a hypnotic dance, reminiscent of Mevlana's whirlers in Konya.
  • This is a state-sanctioned occasion, and it is a stately spectacle with many whirlers and a semi-classical orchestra staged in a basketball stadium in front of coachloads of Japanese tourists.


Example sentences
  • Lastly the sound of waves wash over into the Shooglenifty track which again starts slowly but builds whirlingly up until you definitely need a beer.
  • Milton's enthusiastic attack will undoubtedly bring to a whirlingly triumphant conclusion, one of the most exciting pieces written by this master of the musical build-up.
  • If the whirlingly excitable and headlong finale does not match the quality of the other two movements it is sold by the eager and furious Flier and Kondrashin for all it's worth.


Middle English: the verb probably from Old Norse hvirfla 'turn about'; the noun partly from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wervel 'spindle', or from Old Norse hvirfill 'circle', from a Germanic base meaning 'rotate'.

Words that rhyme with whirl

birl, burl, churl, curl, earl, Erle, furl, girl, herl, hurl, knurl, merle, pas seul, pearl, purl, Searle, skirl, squirl, swirl, twirl, whorl

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: whirl

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