from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To rotate or revolve briskly; swing in a circle; spin.
  • intransitive verb To twist or wind around.
  • intransitive verb To move or spin around rapidly, suddenly, or repeatedly.
  • intransitive verb To whirl or turn suddenly; make an about-face.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To pitch.
  • noun The act of twirling or the condition of being twirled; a quick spinning or twisting.
  • noun Something twirled; a twist.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun A rapid circular motion.
  • noun A twist; a convolution; a curl; a flourish.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A movement where one spins round elegantly; a pirouette.
  • verb intransitive To perform a twirl.
  • verb transitive To rotate.

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

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


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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Of Scandinavian origin, akin to Norwegian tvirla, Old High German dweran (German zwirlen, quirlen) and Icelandic þyrill


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  • "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 Rowling, J. K. 1999

  • "twirl" would help to construct the smoke subtle curves too. 2009

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

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God PhD Bradford Keeney 2010

  • 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 2009

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

    Friday YouTube: Intro to 'The New Adventures of Batman' (1977) 2009

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

    Odd Girl In Jo Whittemore 2011

  • 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 Christie Golden 2011

  • 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 2009

  • 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 Christopher Allen 2011

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

    bibi - French Word-A-Day 2009


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  • Spaghetti.

    January 7, 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

  • 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

  • In the area of phonesthemes here.

    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

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

    May 24, 2011

  • Super helpful thanks all!

    May 24, 2011