Definition of whirlwind in US English:



  • 1A column of air moving rapidly around and around in a cylindrical or funnel shape.

    • ‘A tree was knocked over, roof tiles pulled away and some outbuilding's roofs even torn off when strong, sudden whirlwinds descended on the village on Monday morning.’
    • ‘For a desert people winds, rain, thunder, lightening, hurricanes, thunderbolts, whirlwinds, and other meteorological phenomena held tremendous fascination.’
    • ‘A tornado or whirlwind was spotted in north Pembrokeshire last week by a local tornado enthusiast.’
    • ‘A hot dry wind stirred up small whirlwinds of dust and sand, forcing her to squint.’
    • ‘Heading up to the top of the mountain for the afternoons finals the athletes were pummeled by high winds and dusty whirlwinds.’
    • ‘During certain weather conditions, the constant stream of air over hilly areas would produce small, electrically charged whirlwinds.’
    • ‘Arid, dusty Jijiga is built on a vast plain where even the smallest breeze creates wind devils - whirlwinds of dust that rise high into the sky.’
    • ‘The two aircraft encountered terrific up and down drafts, along with whirlwinds, frequently driving the planes to within 25-ft of the ground.’
    • ‘He explained whirlwinds were formed in storm clouds.’
    • ‘They can cause dust devils and whirlwinds, though these are nothing when compared to the immense dust storms that can occur.’
    tornado, hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, tropical storm, tropical cyclone, vortex
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Used in similes and metaphors to describe a very energetic or tumultuous person or process.
      ‘a whirlwind of activity’
      as modifier ‘a whirlwind romance’
      • ‘In a brief whirlwind of activity the foundations were laid for the best railway anywhere in the world.’
      • ‘He met the wonderful Rosie and, after a whirlwind romance, they married.’
      • ‘Theirs had been a real whirlwind romance - six weeks from their first meeting to their marriage.’
      • ‘It was a whirlwind romance little approved of by her family.’
      • ‘A lovestruck South African and a Rochdale bachelor have married after a whirlwind romance over the internet.’
      • ‘After a whirlwind week, the new City boss admitted his first match in charge was looming large…’
      • ‘He would love to take a whirlwind ballpark tour, going to different stadiums all over the country.’
      • ‘It was such a idyllic setting, she could imagine herself having a whirlwind romance of sorts in Scotland.’
      • ‘Diane and Derek had a whirlwind courtship of two years and the question of the day was, where exactly did the happy couple meet?’
      • ‘He's a grinning, bearded, furiously energetic human whirlwind, known to everyone as Poppa.’
      • ‘Erianne always set his senses on heightened alarm, even now when she was an emotional whirlwind.’
      • ‘Barry's daughter, Sinead, becomes a traffic warden and has a whirlwind romance with a man Barry hates.’
      • ‘Bradford's Lord Mayor is celebrating the city's diversity by embarking on a whirlwind series of cultural diary dates.’
      • ‘The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance after meeting each other in a Los Angeles hotel lobby in February.’
      • ‘Drinnen will savour the routine after a whirlwind two months.’
      • ‘We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Ohio to attend Joe's brother's wedding.’
      • ‘I went to get water and other supplies at a whirlwind trip to the grocery store.’
      • ‘He then bought her a Ferrari and, after a whirlwind five-month romance, he jetted her off to Las Vegas to marry in a secret ceremony.’
      • ‘What should we make of the latest whirlwind of diplomatic activity?’
      • ‘The whirlwind tour of Walt Disney World began in Disney's MGM Studios.’
      bedlam, madhouse, mayhem, maelstrom, babel, chaos, pandemonium, uproar, turmoil, turbulence, swirl, tumult, hurly-burly, commotion, disorder, jumble, disarray, confusion, seething mass, welter
      rapid, lightning, overnight, instant, headlong, impulsive, breakneck, whistle-stop, fast-track, accelerated, meteoric, sudden, swift, fast, quick, speedy
      View synonyms


  • (sow the wind and) reap the whirlwind

    • Suffer serious consequences as a result of one's actions.

      • ‘Sir Fergie could be finally reaping the whirlwind.’
      • ‘Having sown the wind of ignorant opposition, he and his government reap the whirlwind.’
      • ‘The vintners ignored my advice and now they are reaping the whirlwind.’
      • ‘He has has sowed the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind.’
      • ‘Those people should be made accountable for their actions, and I look forward to them reaping the whirlwind from the New Zealand people.’
      • ‘We should take his message more seriously, lest we continue to reap the whirlwind of a church increasingly divided around its sacred table.’
      • ‘The scandalous CEOs have pushed us too far, and finally are reaping the whirlwind of public fury.’
      • ‘They were, he observed grimly, sowing the wind and would reap the whirlwind.’
      • ‘They get swept up in a wind of applause and reap the whirlwind of unwelcome headlines.’
      • ‘As Sir Arthur Harris said: ‘You sow the seeds and reap the whirlwind.’’