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 hot dry wind stirred up small whirlwinds of dust and sand, forcing her to squint.’
    • ‘The two aircraft encountered terrific up and down drafts, along with whirlwinds, frequently driving the planes to within 25-ft of the ground.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A tornado or whirlwind was spotted in north Pembrokeshire last week by a local tornado enthusiast.’
    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’
      • ‘Erianne always set his senses on heightened alarm, even now when she was an emotional whirlwind.’
      • ‘He's a grinning, bearded, furiously energetic human whirlwind, known to everyone as Poppa.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Barry's daughter, Sinead, becomes a traffic warden and has a whirlwind romance with a man Barry hates.’
      • ‘In a brief whirlwind of activity the foundations were laid for the best railway anywhere in the world.’
      • ‘It was a whirlwind romance little approved of by her family.’
      • ‘Drinnen will savour the routine after a whirlwind two months.’
      • ‘A lovestruck South African and a Rochdale bachelor have married after a whirlwind romance over the internet.’
      • ‘The whirlwind tour of Walt Disney World began in Disney's MGM Studios.’
      • ‘It was such a idyllic setting, she could imagine herself having a whirlwind romance of sorts in Scotland.’
      • ‘We just got back from a whirlwind trip to Ohio to attend Joe's brother's wedding.’
      • ‘Theirs had been a real whirlwind romance - six weeks from their first meeting to their marriage.’
      • ‘He met the wonderful Rosie and, after a whirlwind romance, they married.’
      • ‘Diane and Derek had a whirlwind courtship of two years and the question of the day was, where exactly did the happy couple meet?’
      • ‘After a whirlwind week, the new City boss admitted his first match in charge was looming large…’
      • ‘I went to get water and other supplies at a whirlwind trip to the grocery store.’
      • ‘Bradford's Lord Mayor is celebrating the city's diversity by embarking on a whirlwind series of cultural diary dates.’
      • ‘What should we make of the latest whirlwind of diplomatic activity?’
      • ‘He would love to take a whirlwind ballpark tour, going to different stadiums all over the country.’
      • ‘The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance after meeting each other in a Los Angeles hotel lobby in February.’
      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.

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