Definition of swirl in English:



  • 1Move in a twisting or spiraling pattern.

    ‘the smoke was swirling around him’
    figurative ‘a flood of swirling emotions’
    • ‘Wind began to swirl around her, picking up speed.’
    • ‘At first he saw nothing but darkness, swirling and spinning around in front of him.’
    • ‘Shawn's whole world swirled, and twisted, making him want to throw up, but he stayed conscious.’
    • ‘Suddenly the fog moved, swirling to form the shape of a man's head.’
    • ‘The smoke crept upwards and swirled in the column of light.’
    • ‘This fish had other ideas, it twisted and swirled but slowly inch by inch it came to the landing net.’
    • ‘I made my way over to the sliding patio door and forced it open, allowing a blast of hideously cold wind and snow to swirl around the kitchen.’
    • ‘Dust swirled around with the wind, forming intricate patterns among the rubble.’
    • ‘Dark sunglasses graced her face as her black duster jacket swirled in the wind.’
    • ‘My blood was swirling in a spiral pattern, before finally mixing with the water and turning it red.’
    • ‘When wind comes up and fans the fire, the smoke swirls fast and strong.’
    • ‘Local residents told protestors how they woke to find smoke from the blaze swirling through their homes.’
    • ‘I could see a genuine look of concern, and all my emotions seemed to swirl up inside me.’
    • ‘Clouds began to swirl above and the wind picked up.’
    • ‘Waves broke against the dark rocks to her left, and foamed and swirled like a jacuzzi.’
    • ‘An icy blast of wind from the Arctic swirled down the hillside and froze the skin on his face.’
    • ‘The sun shone through the canopy of leaves, and the wind made the leaves swirl around her.’
    • ‘The air swirled with dust and smoke and the smell of petrol and spicy sausages.’
    • ‘They quickly got higher and higher in the air as their clothes swirled in the wind.’
    • ‘Its silvery surface rippled and swirled on occasion like a quiet mountain pool.’
    whirl, eddy, billow, spiral, wind, churn, swish, agitate, circulate, revolve, spin, twist, gyrate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Cause to move in a twisting or spiraling pattern.
      ‘swirl a little cream into the soup’
      • ‘Heat up a small omelette pan and add a teaspoon of oil, swirling it around the pan.’
      • ‘The agent put on rubber gloves and opened my thermos and swirled the coffee around.’
      • ‘2 Pour in the beaten eggs and swirl them round and round in the pan with a fork, shaking the pan frequently with one hand.’
      • ‘I swirled my hot cocoa with my straw, staring out my window at the softly falling snow.’
      • ‘I put down my half full cup of tea back onto the tray and poured some milk into it, swirling it around.’
      • ‘The wind was swirling up leaf litter and the dusty snow together and they made a dry hissing sound.’
      • ‘Sour cream swirls: swirl a dollop of sour cream or yogurt into thick soups.’
      • ‘By running a comb through the water the oil paints are swirled together to form a marble pattern.’
      • ‘Put the rice into a pot and wash it with cold water, swirling the rice with one hand and tipping off the milky water.’
      • ‘Australians drink coffee in smaller cups, our baristas tend to swirl the milk a little less, and we have completely different terminology.’
      • ‘Heat over a medium-high heat, add a good tablespoonful of batter, then swirl the pan in a circular motion to coat the bottom.’
      • ‘They just sat there, he swirling a drink with a spoon and she staring off into space.’
      • ‘The scorer took off to greet the pocket of fans down by the corner flag, swirling his shirt above his head in celebration.’
      • ‘A strong warm wind whipped up the drizzle and swirled it around the streets.’
      • ‘Instead, she picked up a strawberry, swirled it in the cream and brought it to her mouth.’
      • ‘We swirl the ice in our plastic cup of Scotch and Coke and look at the people sitting near us.’
      • ‘I swirled honey and sugar into my latte and looked for a place to deposit the spoon.’
      • ‘Put the heat on medium-low, put a few teaspoons of olive oil in the stockpot and swirl it around to coat the bottom, let it warm for a moment and then add the leeks.’
      • ‘Lauren swirls her white wine around in the glass and watches amused as Mark feasts on his steak.’
      • ‘He stared at his pint, head down, swirling the beer slowly in the glass between his hands.’


  • 1A quantity of something moving in a swirl.

    ‘swirls of dust swept across the floor’
    • ‘The desert dust kicked up swirls up into a impenetrable smoke screen.’
    • ‘The helicopters touched down in a swirl of blinding dust, a condition pilots call a ‘brownout.’’
    • ‘The room welcomed me inside with a sigh and a swirl of dust.’
    • ‘She coughed as the dry swirls of midday dust seeped into her lungs.’
    • ‘The road, where at points the wind raised swirls of white dust without itself being felt, was as lonely as though no one had ever been along it.’
    • ‘The swirls of dust whirl up around him, and he walks into their midst.’
    • ‘He climbed down the swaying ladder onto the ancient hardwood floor, as he landed a swirl of dust filled his nostrils causing him to gag.’
    • ‘I heard the wind whisper as I stood there in the swirls of dust.’
    • ‘When the first ship entered, it stirred up dust into a swirl.’
    • ‘The occasional gust of wind sent little swirls of dust and debris flying through the air, and dead bodies littered the ground.’
    1. 1.1 A twisting or spiraling movement or pattern.
      ‘she emerged with a swirl of skirts’
      ‘swirls of color’
      • ‘He wore a minimum amount of clothing, decorating his body with a pattern of black swirls.’
      • ‘The outfit was a beautiful midnight blue dress, with spaghetti straps and faint white swirls working their way through in an exotic pattern.’
      • ‘Black, white and ginger all in unique swirls and patterns.’
      • ‘Because holography is a method of lens less photography, the photographic plate appears as a meaningless pattern of swirls.’
      • ‘Three hours later, her hands were covered from wrist to fingernails with an intricate pattern of swirls, lines, and dots that had been applied using a syringe without its needle.’
      • ‘It looked very old and traced with lacy patterns of swirls, vines, and flowers, but it wasn't just white or just black; it was a twisted mixture of both black and white.’
      • ‘Turning with a swirl of her emerald skirts, Sara placed a gentle finger against Alex's lips, silencing her.’
      • ‘Her face is covered with Celtic swirls and patterns.’
      • ‘There was a swirl of movement in the dimly lit alcove.’
      • ‘I watched them drop a compound of powder in the vats and saw the swirls of colour turn the vats purple, or blue or any colour.’
      • ‘Jennifer held up a brightly coloured pillow case, which had patterns of swirls in fluorescent colours.’
      • ‘A burr is a growth on the side of a tree with a pattern of dense swirls in its grain.’
      • ‘One tent was a beautiful crimson with swirls of golden spirals.’
      • ‘The music thumps in his ears as the wind and other cars speed by in a swirl of motion and color.’
      • ‘His nose had tattoos all over it - and his eyes poked out from a lavish pattern of paisley swirls all over his cheeks and forehead.’
      • ‘The carpet is a rich scarlet, with gold swirls running through it, taken from the Victory Theatre when he left there in the early 1980s.’
      • ‘In the swirl of movement that follows, things happen fast even though it seems to the cop as if everything has gone into slow motion.’
      • ‘The walls are a pretty light blue, and there is trim along the ceiling that matches: it's a darker blue, with black swirls running through it.’
      • ‘Here and there, a detail attracts more precise rendering; a hand, a face, a small insect emerge from the swirl of color.’
      • ‘Standing at least twice her height, it was covered with ornate curves of brass and steel, forming a graceful and intricate pattern of swirls and loops.’


Late Middle English (originally Scots in the sense ‘whirlpool’): perhaps of Low German or Dutch origin; compare with Dutch zwirrelen ‘to whirl’.