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[hwur, wur] /ʰwɜr, wɜr/
verb (used with or without object), noun


or whirr

[hwur, wur] /ʰwɜr, wɜr/
verb (used without object), whirred, whirring.
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.
to move or transport (a thing, person, etc.) with a whirring sound:
The plane whirred them away into the night.
an act or sound of whirring:
the whir of wings.
Origin of whir
1350-1400; Middle English quirre (Scots) < Scandinavian; compare Danish hvirre, Norwegian kvirra. See whirl Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for whirr
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There was the whirr of an electric bell, and she knew that Anthony had come.

    Glory of Youth Temple Bailey
  • A rabbit or two scuttled away, and a pheasant flew off with a whirr.

  • One of his sounds or calls is like the buzz of a reel or the whirr of an alarm-clock.

  • The whirr of that arrow lived in Roger's mind the rest of his days.

    Some Three Hundred Years Ago Edith Gilman Brewster
  • As he was lifting it off the fire he heard a whirr of wings above his head.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • But as she looked this way and that way, Iduna heard a whirr of wings above her.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • For a moment I thought it was due to the whirr of our own wheels.

    The Motor Pirate George Sidney Paternoster
  • The buzzer's whirr triggered his muscles into complete relaxation.

    Planet of the Damned Harry Harrison
  • The whirr of the rattle went on for a second or two, then gradually subsided.

    The Black Buccaneer Stephen W. Meader
British Dictionary definitions for whirr


a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working or wings flapping
a bustle or rush
verb whirs, whirrs, whirring, whirred
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 whirr



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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