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2017 Word of the Year

whir

or whirr

[hwur, wur] /ʰwɜr, wɜr/
verb (used without object), whirred, whirring.
1.
to go, fly, revolve, or otherwise move quickly with a humming or buzzing sound:
An electric fan whirred softly in the corner.
verb (used with object), whirred, whirring.
2.
to move or transport (a thing, person, etc.) with a whirring sound:
The plane whirred them away into the night.
noun
3.
an act or sound of whirring:
the whir of wings.
Origin of whir
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English quirre (Scots) < Scandinavian; compare Danish hvirre, Norwegian kvirra. See whirl
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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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.

    The Odyssey of Sam Meecham Charles E. Fritch
  • It flared there, with noises like the whir of wings, with rumbles as of thunder.

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

    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)
  • Then, oh, the whir and whisper of the autumn wind among the trees!

    The Heiress of Wyvern Court

    Emilie Searchfield
  • Presently a brace of prairie-chickens rose with a whir of wings.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • After another cannon, a three-cushion one to judge by the whir, I argued no more.

British Dictionary definitions for whir

whir

/wɜː/
noun
1.
a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working or wings flapping
2.
a bustle or rush
verb whirs, whirrs, whirring, whirred
3.
to make or cause to make a whir
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
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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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Word Value for whir

10
9
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