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A swirl in water


From Middle English swirlen (to eddy; swirl). Cognate with Norwegian svirla (to whirl around; swirl). Compare also Swedish svirra, Danish svirre, German schwirren.



swirl (third-person singular simple present swirls, present participle swirling, simple past and past participle swirled)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To twist or whirl, as an eddy.
    I swirled my brush around in the paint.
    • (Can we date this quote by Charles Kingsley and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      The river swirled along.
    • 2012 May 13, Alistair Magowan, “Sunderland 0-1 Man Utd”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      The contest was a lot more even in the second half, as the wind swirled around the Stadium of Light, but it took Craig Gardner's superb block to prevent Young getting on the scoresheet.
  2. To be arranged in a twist, spiral or whorl.
  3. (figuratively) To circulate.

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swirl (plural swirls)

  1. A whirling eddy.
  2. A twist or coil of something.
  3. (fishing) The upward rushing of a fish through the water to take the bait.

Derived terms[edit]