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EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.


skirr (third-person singular simple present skirrs, present participle skirring, simple past and past participle skirred)

  1. (intransitive) To leave hastily; to flee, especially with a whirring sound
    • 1851, Frank Forester, (Please provide the book title or journal name), HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2006:
      … while at the same moment, whir-r-r! up sprung a bevy of twenty quail, at least, startling me for the moment by the thick whirring of their wings, and skirring over the underwood right toward Archer.
    • 1919, EJ Thompson, Beyond Baghdad[1], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2006:
      Our left wing, when they occupied the hills, saw four or five hundred Turks 'skirr away' in one body, and the machine-gunners found a target.
  2. To make a whirring sound.
    • 1920, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Thuvia, Maiden of Mars[2], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2008:
      ... but that they had no thought to let the thing go unnoticed was quickly evidenced by the skirring of motors upon the landing-stage and the quick shooting airward of a long-lined patrol boat.
  3. (transitive) To search about in, scour
    • 1851, Washington Irving, Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada[3], HTML edition, The Gutenberg Project, published 2009:
      The gates of Granada once more poured forth legions of light scouring cavalry, which skirred the country up to the very gates of the Christian fortresses, sweeping off flocks and herds.
  4. to pass over quickly, skim

Usage notes[edit]

Often mistakenly used instead of skirl.


skirr (plural skirrs)

  1. (Britain, dialectal) A tern.


  • Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 2003
  • Oxford Dictionary Online, skirr

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for skirr in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)