Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To rotate or revolve briskly; swing in a circle; spin: twirled a baton to lead the band.
  • transitive v. To twist or wind around: twirl thread on a spindle.
  • intransitive v. To move or spin around rapidly, suddenly, or repeatedly: The pinwheel twirled in the breeze.
  • intransitive v. To whirl or turn suddenly; make an about-face: twirled in the direction of the noise.
  • intransitive v. Baseball To pitch.
  • n. The act of twirling or the condition of being twirled; a quick spinning or twisting.
  • n. Something twirled; a twist: a twirl of cotton candy.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A movement where one spins round elegantly; a pirouette.
  • v. To perform a twirl.
  • v. To rotate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To move or turn round rapidly; to whirl round; to move and turn rapidly with the fingers.
  • intransitive v. To revolve with velocity; to be whirled round rapidly.
  • n. The act of twirling; a rapid circular motion; a whirl or whirling; quick rotation.
  • n. A twist; a convolution.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cause to revolve rapidly; spin; whirl; turn round and round, usually in an idle, purposeless way; twiddle.
  • To move round; especially, to revolve rapidly; be whirled about.
  • To twine; wind; coil; curl.
  • n. A rapid circular motion.
  • n. A twist; a convolution; a curl; a flourish.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a sharp bend in a line produced when a line having a loop is pulled tight
  • n. the act of rotating rapidly
  • v. turn in a twisting or spinning motion
  • v. cause to spin

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Of Scandinavian origin, akin to Norwegian tvirla, Old High German dweran (German zwirlen, quirlen) and Icelandic þyrill[2] (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • "Training for the ballet, Potter?" yelled Malfoy as Harry was forced to do a stupid kind of twirl in midair to dodge the Bludger, and he fled, the Bludger trailing a few feet behind him; and then, glaring back at Malfoy in hatred, he saw it-the Golden Snitch.

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  • "twirl" would help to construct the smoke subtle curves too.

    doggdot.us

  • It will not only blow your mind, it will whirl and twirl your body about.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

  • And I will entertain myself by learning to twirl the spoon.

    Odd Girl In

  • Tychus felt good enough to execute a twirl, which Jennifer, as a gracious dance partner, spun through so easily, she made him look good.

    Starcraft II: Devils’ Due

  • Then I would twirl off the metal frame, rip through the air like radio waves and land face-first on a bed of rubbish, chunky with chocolate milk cartons and cheese puff bags.

    Freedom Can Wait

  • It looks like one of those twirl-around stands with postcards on it .........

    bibi - French Word-A-Day

  • Also notice that Batman's flagpole twirl during the closing credits was completely superfluous.

    Friday YouTube: Intro to 'The New Adventures of Batman' (1977)

  • As I found out when she tried to teach me to twirl, this is not easy to do with one gun, much less two.

    Pistol Packin' Paula

  • Zermoid -- Yes, I tried to twirl one of those six-shooters so I can attest that they are real Cimmaron Arms. 45s.

    Pistol Packin' Paula

Comments

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  • Super helpful thanks all!

    May 24, 2011

  • Those are great lists, pterodactyl! You might be interested in my snose list.

    May 24, 2011

  • Excellent point, rolig. And bilby, I think you're absolutely right -- the phenomenon that rolig describes is definitely related to phonesthemes.

    I have some phonestheme lists, in case anyone's interested.

    May 24, 2011

  • In the area of phonesthemes here.

    May 24, 2011

  • Would "twist" and "twirl" be evocative of twisting and twirling if they didn't mean what they mean? Would a non-English-speaker, upon hearing the word "twist" immediately think of rotation? I suspect that our feeling that these words somehow evoke the idea of spinning and winding may be related to other things, like our sense of the words twine, whirl, etc., as well as the onomatopoeia we associate with the initial w-/wh- sounds, as in wind, whip, whoosh, whizz, etc.

    As for what word might be used for such associations, the word you use is good: evocative. I also call them fibrous words.

    May 23, 2011

  • Twirl and twist aren't onomatopoeic (right?) but is there a word for what they are - ie evocative of what they describe?

    May 23, 2011

  • Spaghetti.

    January 7, 2011