Definition of birl in English:



  • Spin; whirl.

    [no object] ‘my dad would have birled in his grave at the very idea’
    • ‘My dad would have birled in his grave at the very idea, I'm sure, but to some extent you have to roll with the times.’
    • ‘It was time for Strip The Willow and the caller instructed the men to ‘birl the girl around a bit’.’
    • ‘We have managed to stagger to a situation where fans of some sports and participants in others are birling hither, while fans and would-be sporty types from different pursuits have been confined to barracks and Grandstand.’
    • ‘‘Actually,’ she continues before Burns starts birling in his grave, ‘I think he would have been too short for me.’’
    • ‘Flower o’ Scotland was given the kind of revamp that must have had traditionalists birling, and it seemed to sum up everything that the national manager has been seeking from his players: all gusto and passion.’
    • ‘Past players will be welcomed to the ground on Saturday and future stars will cheer from the sidelines, but it is the current crop who hope to have Shankly birling.’
    • ‘Once there, he tried to cool the drink by birling his arms like windmill blades.’
    • ‘Certain kings and princes of the Turf would be birling in their graves at the thought of a syndicate winning the world's most famous Flat race - the Royal Ascot Club is the first to do so in 225 years of the race.’
    • ‘His mistake was to attempt a back-heel on the run which bounced off Cameron, setting his little legs birling.’
    • ‘And according to MacDonald this birled him into his big mistake, appointing his golfing pal Dalglish who, in turn, appointed his mate Barnes.’
    • ‘Genoa's most famous son must be birling in his grave.’
    • ‘Gone are the days when a wee dram and a tin of shortbread were enough to get the nation birling into a hangover worthy of a new year.’
    • ‘In the last decade, we've been urged to be so many different types of man and, in the last month, we feel as if we've been birled at high speed through the revolving door of Harvey Nicks and dumped in the store's scary menswear department.’
    • ‘He splattered the volley viciously with his left foot and, although McKenzie got a finger-stinging touch, he was still aloft as the ball birled in the netting.’
    • ‘One can almost imagine Dan Maskell birling in his grave at this heresy.’
    • ‘The ball broke to him on the right of the box and he birled round in one motion to score with a fierce low shot into the opposite corner of Poom's goal.’
    • ‘In a week when Celtic start their Champions League campaign, their greatest manager might just be birling in his grave.’
    • ‘Yes, so see a bloke revolving a log in the water while he's standing on it, and you know it's birling.’
    rotate, turn, turn round, go round, revolve, circle, wheel, orbit, pivot, swivel, gyrate, spin, roll, twirl, pirouette
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  • A spin or whirl.

    • ‘A house party, for example, would only be deemed a success when the ceilidh, with full live band in the bedroom, had aroused enough interest that the police were knocking on the door for a birl.’
    • ‘Local skaters recreate the spirit of the Far East, with lamp - rubbing, wish-making, fancy birls and more skidding than you might expect.’


Early 18th century: imitative.