Definition of spiral in English:

spiral

Syllabification: spi·ral
Pronunciation: /ˈspīrəl
 
/

adjective

1Winding in a continuous and gradually widening (or tightening) curve, either around a central point on a flat plane or about an axis so as to form a cone: a spiral pattern
More example sentences
  • The way in which the spiral patterns of sunflower seeds and pine cones grow is described by the sequence, and it is common for the number of petals on a flower to be a Fibonacci number.
  • It was like a pink disk, flat, and inch across, a spiral pattern of tiny dots on its surface.
  • Arrange all integers in a hexagonal spiral pattern.
1.1Winding in a continuous curve of constant diameter about a central axis, as though along a cylinder; helical.
More example sentences
  • In the spring, I took in an exhibit of Frank Gehry models and drawings arrayed along the spiral ramp within the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
  • This meant the dogs had to run at different speeds along their spiral paths.
  • Circular accelerators move particles along a circular or spiral path in machines that vary in size from less than a few feet to many miles in diameter.
Synonyms
coiled, helical, corkscrew, curling, winding, twisting, whorled
1.2(Of a staircase) constantly turning in one direction as it rises, around a solid or open center.
More example sentences
  • All include a mezzanine level with a wrought-iron spiral stairway leading from a comfortable sitting area to the bedroom above.
  • Quiet, clean and spare, it led, past a short spiral stairway with a gallery, to a darker room.
  • Patsy got up thereafter and redressed, put on her makeup and then went downstairs and found the three-page ransom note at the bottom of the spiral stairway.
1.3 Medicine (Of a fracture) curving around a long bone lengthwise.
More example sentences
  • Transverse fractures are often harder to align and immobilise than apparently more serious oblique or spiral fractures.
  • A throwing fracture is a spiral fracture of the shaft of the humerus which is caused by the high torque on the arm during the throw.
  • Luckily, the break was in a spiral fracture and I didn't need any plates or screws, so they just slapped a cast on my leg, gave me some Motrin, and I was on my way.
1.4 short for spiral-bound. a spiral notebook
More example sentences
  • I write in spiral notebooks, the plain, drugstore kind.
  • Tiara snatched a spiral notebook out of Erik's hand.
  • I always carry a small spiral notebook in my shirt pocket and, more recently, a small electronic memo recorder, to save ideas and images for future use.

noun

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1A spiral curve, shape, or pattern: he spotted a spiral of smoke
More example sentences
  • However, I do remember clearly the double spiral (figure-of-eight) shape.
  • Small spiral shaped gills are found, which pick up oxygen from the water.
  • In ever-more-abstracted form and diverse media, these elemental shapes, such as spirals, labyrinths, lozenges, and goddesses, recurred in her work.
Synonyms
coil, helix, corkscrew, curl, twist, gyre, whorl, scroll
technical volute, volution
1.1A spiral spring.
More example sentences
  • I roll over so many times in the night that it would be a big twisted spiral around my waist by morning.
  • Behind the receptionist - whose dais is made of glowing plastic blocks, there is a wall with an undulating psychedelic orange spiral.
  • In between each spiral was a beautifully painted butterfly.
1.2 Astronomy short for spiral galaxy.
More example sentences
  • Hubble's tuning fork distinguishes ‘normal’ spiral galaxies from spirals that show a bar across the center.
  • Galaxies and nebulae are often enormous spirals floating in outer space.
  • Both galaxies are spirals of roughly the same age, with stars strewn across flattened disks of roughly the same size, more than 100,000 light-years across.
2A progressive rise or fall of prices, wages, etc., each responding to an upward or downward stimulus provided by a previous one: an inflationary spiral
More example sentences
  • Carrefour and Casino have shown disappointing growth since the French government demanded a year ago that the country's food retailers reverse the upward spiral of prices.
  • As a result, there was an upward spiral in the share price of GTB, which helped it achieve a better swap ratio in the merger.
  • He also said the Japanese economy is not about to fall into a deflationary spiral under which price falls and economic contraction take place simultaneously.
2.1A process of deterioration through the continuous increase or decrease of a specified feature: a downward spiral of sex and drink
More example sentences
  • The huge work pressure the tutorial system creates, can lead students into a downward spiral of self-deprecation and loss of confidence.
  • The highest rates of sexual infection and unwanted pregnancy are in people from deprived backgrounds further increasing the spiral of decline into poverty and ill health.
  • Nick Duerden's second novel studies the spiral of self destructiveness, and how some can fail over and over again yet still come out winning.
3 Football A pass or kick that moves smoothly through the air while spinning on its long axis.
More example sentences
  • The axis of the spiral seems small and the orbit fixed.
  • It takes a rotation or two to get the center started into a smooth spiral.
  • He rarely has thrown passes on target; even fewer have been spirals.

verb (spirals, spiraling, spiraled Footballspirals, spiralling, spiralled)

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1 [no object] Move in a spiral course: a wisp of smoke spiraled up from the trees
More example sentences
  • Jane stared down at the water, the fish spiralling, swimming, moving with the current.
  • A huge blaze at an industrial park in Leeds last night sent plumes of black smoke spiralling nearly 2,000 ft into the air.
  • Faint smoke spiraled off the battery connections as they heated up.
Synonyms
coil, wind, swirl, twist, wreathe, snake, gyrate
literary gyre
1.1 [with object] Cause to have a spiral shape or follow a spiral course: spiral the bandage around the injured limb
More example sentences
  • Twist the rod until the hair section is spiralled around it (the barrel should be held vertically, so the top is pointing up).
  • Digital modification stands in for genetic, and so the animals are lengthened, spiralled or moved across the picture plane as if a magnetic force - an exterior one - operated.
2 [no object] Show a continuous and dramatic increase: inflation continued to spiral (as adjective spiraling) he needed to relax after the spiraling tensions of the day
More example sentences
  • Shortages for low-income Torontonians were once again rampant, rents were spiraling and evictions were increasing.
  • As tensions have spiraled between Pyongyang and the US, Anti-American sentiment has exploded in South Korea.
  • The stress with trying to move house has spiralled out of all control and doesn't look like it's going to reduce in the near future.
Synonyms
soar, shoot up, rocket, increase rapidly, rise rapidly, escalate, climb
informal skyrocket, go through the roof
2.1 (spiral down/downward) Decrease or deteriorate continuously: he expects the figures to spiral down further
More example sentences
  • Unable to accept this reality, Kinsley, like many of the president's other critics, continues to spiral downward into irrationality.
  • In April 1986 it fell to $2.40 and continued spiraling down to $2.01.
  • Worse yet, as the economy continued to spiral downward, the inflow of dollars slowed, forcing the currency board to restrict the country's money supply even further.
Synonyms

Origin

mid 16th century (as an adjective): from medieval Latin spiralis, from Latin spira 'coil' (see spire2).

Derivatives

spirally

adverb
More example sentences
  • Pinaceae are Monoecious with small pollen cones and larger seed cones with spirally arranged scales.
  • The central awn in A. simpliciflora is prominently spiral-twisted and contorted to 180 degrees versus spreading to deflexed and not conspicuously spirally twisted basally in A. virgata.
  • The woolly mammoth has two distinctive spirally curved tusks up to 3.5 metres long.

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