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whir

or whirr

[hwur, wur]
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verb (used without object), whirred, whir·ring.
  1. to go, fly, revolve, or otherwise move quickly with a humming or buzzing sound: An electric fan whirred softly in the corner.
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verb (used with object), whirred, whir·ring.
  1. to move or transport (a thing, person, etc.) with a whirring sound: The plane whirred them away into the night.
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noun
  1. an act or sound of whirring: the whir of wings.
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Origin of whir

1350–1400; Middle English quirre (Scots) < Scandinavian; compare Danish hvirre, Norwegian kvirra. See whirl
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for whir

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He was prepared for the whir of the dial now but still it frightened him a little.

  • For a long time I heard nothing but the whir and roar of the fire.

    Youth

    Joseph Conrad

  • It flared there, with noises like the whir of wings, with rumbles as of thunder.

    Youth

    Joseph Conrad

  • We hear the whir of the crescent-shaped arms opening as they descend.

    With The Night Mail

    Rudyard Kipling

  • They were deep in the forest when they heard a whir overhead.

    The Rover Boys on a Hunt

    Arthur M. Winfield (Edward Stratemeyer)


British Dictionary definitions for whir

whir

whirr

noun
  1. a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working or wings flapping
  2. a bustle or rush
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verb whirs, whirrs, whirring or whirred
  1. to make or cause to make a whir
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Word Origin

C14: probably from Scandinavian; compare Norwegian kvirra, Danish hvirre; see whirl
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for whir

v.

c.1400, Scottish, "fling, hurl," probably from Old Norse hvirfla, frequentative of hverfa "to turn" (see wharf). Cf. Danish hvirvle, Dutch wervelen, German wirbeln "to whirl." Related: Whirred; whirring.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper