whirl (wûrl, hwûrl)
v. whirled, whirl·ing, whirls
1. To rotate rapidly about a center or an axis; spin.
2. To move while rotating or turning about: The dancer whirled across the stage. See Synonyms at turn.
3. To turn rapidly, changing direction; wheel: She whirled around to face him.
4. To have the sensation of spinning; reel: My head is whirling with data.
1. To cause to rotate or turn rapidly: whirl a baton.
2. To cause to move with a spinning motion: whirled the ball up into the air.
3. To drive at high speed: whirled the motorcycle around the corner.
4. Obsolete To hurl.
1. The act of rotating or revolving rapidly.
2. Something, such as a cloud of dust, that whirls or is whirled.
3. A state of confusion; a tumult: The press room was in a whirl.
4. A swift succession or round of events: the social whirl.
5. A state of mental confusion or giddiness; dizziness: My head is in a whirl.
6. Informal A short trip or ride.
7. Informal A brief or experimental try: Let's give the plan a whirl.
[Middle English whirlen, probably from Old Norse hvirfla.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.