Definition of whorl in English:

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Pronunciation: /wəːl/
Pronunciation: /wɔːl/


1A pattern of spirals or concentric circles: Shelley drew larger and larger dark whorls on her notepad
More example sentences
  • A white archway, over which clung coiling whorls of the vines, gave passage through the hedge.
  • Women had long hair, but marriageable girls wore their hair twisted up into large whorls on either side of their heads.
  • Along a stretch of one road someone has draped strings of little lights in loops and whorls on a line of trees.
loop, coil, hoop, ring, turn, curl, twirl, twist, spiral, helix, lap, tier, lock, convolution
1.1 Zoology Each of the turns or convolutions in the shell of a gastropod or ammonoid mollusc.
Example sentences
  • Analysis of the ecological reasons for the development of free whorls in modem gastropods may explain the reason for this condition in the Scoliostomatidae.
  • However, the initial whorl of these gastropods is unknown and therefore it is unknown whether it is tightly or openly coiled.
  • Our results indicate that warm temperatures and moderate to high productivity are associated with larger shells and wider whorls.
1.2 Botany A set of leaves, flowers, or branches springing from the stem at the same level and encircling it.
Example sentences
  • Trillium species are characterized by a single trimerous flower subtended by a whorl of three leaves.
  • The plant has woody stems, whorls of lance-shaped leaves, and long dense spikes of tubular-shaped light blue, purple, pink, or white flowers from which bees make wonderful honey.
  • Thirty terminal shoot segments were harvested randomly from the last whorl of branches at the top of the trees.
1.3(In a flower) each of the sets of organs, especially the petals and sepals, arranged concentrically round the receptacle.
Example sentences
  • Sepals and petals in the outer whorls are not sexual organs, but may serve to attract pollinators.
  • Around these reproductive organs is the perianth, usually consisting of an outer whorl of sepals and an inner whorl of petals.
  • Floral organ identity genes control the identity of the organs in the four floral whorls - the sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels - and act downstream of the meristem identity loci.
1.4A complete circle in a fingerprint.
Example sentences
  • With an image size of 4 by 3 inches, it evokes the distinctive whorls of fingerprints as well as the terraced topography of a rugged landscape.
  • The under-layer is now permeated by patterns of curving lines with a resemblance to the whorls of fingerprints.
  • The patterns of whorls, arches, and loops on the ends of the fingers are unique to each person, and virtually indelible since superficial burns, cuts, or abrasions do not alter them.
2chiefly historical A small wheel or pulley in a spinning wheel, spinning machine, or spindle.
Example sentences
  • A 2oz spindle with a 2 inch diameter whorl works for fine to medium thickness wool.
  • The whorl is located at the bottom of the shaft and there is either a hook or a notch at the top of the shaft to catch the yarn.


[no object] literary
Spiral or move in a twisted and convoluted fashion.
Example sentences
  • Another external clue seems to be hair whorling anti-clockwise on the head, which is now also thought to indicate the presence of the ‘C’ gene.
  • Histologically, thick collagen bundles were seen, characteristically whorling around vessels in a fibrotic stroma.
  • The big vertical Global Roses in Bloom is all luscious, tumbling, whorling brushwork comprising a rough circular mass of globular, grapelike clusters.



Pronunciation: /wəːld/
Example sentences
  • There were fascicles of spindle cells sometimes arranged in a whorled pattern or admixed with thick collagen fibers.
  • Wentletraps have beautifully whorled shells and take their name from an old Dutch word that means ‘winding staircase‘.
  • The whorled leaves collapse when the plant is removed from the water, whereas the leaves of Ceratophyllum demersum remain upright.


Late Middle English (denoting a small flywheel): apparently a variant of whirl, influenced by Old English wharve 'whorl of a spindle'.

Words that rhyme with whorl

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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: whorl

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