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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


[hwur, wur] /ʰwɜr, wɜr/
verb (used with or without object), noun
whir. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for whirring
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His fierce, gray whiskers bristled at the whirring of the motor and his ears stood up straight like an angry cats.

  • They deemed me an intruder, and rose on whirring wing at my approach.

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
  • Presently his father came along with the whirring machine, while the sweet, new grass blades spun from the knives.

  • She cried out, and they all disappeared with a whirring noise.

    Sketches of Our Life at Sarawak Harriette McDougall
  • He listened not for the step of the little school-teacher, but for the whirring wings of some comrade of his own kind.

    Mistress Anne Temple Bailey
  • But then he feels as if he were held down there by the weight of the whirring air.

  • All at once there was a sharp unfamiliar detonation, resembling the whirring sound of a machine.

    The Liberation of Italy Countess Evelyn Martinengo-Cesaresco
  • Grasshoppers were whirring around, among the dried trunks and the grass.

    Pluck on the Long Trail Edwin L. Sabin
British Dictionary definitions for whirring


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 whirring



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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