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2017 Word of the Year

whorl

[hwurl, hwawrl, wurl, wawrl] /ʰwɜrl, ʰwɔrl, wɜrl, wɔrl/
noun
1.
a circular arrangement of like parts, as leaves or flowers, around a point on an axis; verticil.
2.
one of the turns or volutions of a spiral shell.
3.
anything shaped like a coil.
4.
one of the central ridges of a fingerprint, forming at least one complete circle.
5.
Textiles. a flywheel or pulley, as for a spindle.
Origin of whorl
late Middle English
1425-1475
1425-75; late Middle English whorle, whorvil, wharwyl, Old English hwyrfel, equivalent to hweorfa whorl of a spindle + -el noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for whorl
Historical Examples
  • How old is the very top, down to the first whorl of branches?

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Nature Study Ontario Ministry of Education
  • The great nebula in Orion was a whorl of shimmering star dust.

    The Octopus Frank Norris
  • Let us suppose a whorl of eight leaves, surmounted by a similar whorl of eight.

    Vegetable Teratology

    Maxwell T. Masters
  • The spore-clusters, at the tips of the branches, are surrounded by a whorl of branchlets.

    The Sea Shore William S. Furneaux
  • But he saw a glimmer in a whorl of darkness, like a ball of living fire.

    The Hour of the Dragon Robert E. Howard
  • Calyx absent or represented by a whorl of silky hairs (pappus).

    Field and Woodland Plants

    William S. Furneaux
  • The leaves are very narrow, usually four in a whorl, and very unequal.

    Field and Woodland Plants

    William S. Furneaux
  • He states that it is cut from the suture, where a whorl joins the preceding one.

  • The sole difference is in the size and material of the whorl.

    The Swastika

    Thomas Wilson
  • The Mexican whorl has a Mexican style of ornamentation, etc.

    The Swastika

    Thomas Wilson
British Dictionary definitions for whorl

whorl

/wɜːl/
noun
1.
(botany) a radial arrangement of three or more petals, stamens, leaves, etc, around a stem
2.
(zoology) a single turn in a spiral shell
3.
one of the basic patterns of the human fingerprint, formed by several complete circular ridges one inside another Compare arch1 (sense 4b), loop1 (sense 10a)
4.
anything shaped like a coil
Derived Forms
whorled, adjective
Word Origin
C15: probably variant of whervillewhirl, influenced by Dutch worvel
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 whorl
n.

mid-15c., "flywheel or pulley on a spindle," perhaps an alteration of whirl. Meaning "circle of leaves or flowers round a stem of a plant" is first recorded 1550s. Of seashells or other spiral structures, from 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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whorl in Medicine

whorl (wôrl, wûrl)
n.

  1. A form that coils or spirals; a curl or swirl.

  2. A turn of the cochlea or of the ethmoidal crest.

  3. An area of hair growing in a radial manner.

  4. One of the circular ridges or convolutions of a fingerprint.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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whorl in Science
whorl
  (hwôrl, wôrl, hwûrl, wûrl)   
  1. An arrangement of three or more appendages radiating in a circular or spiral arrangement from a point on a plant, as leaves around the node of a stem. The sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels of angiosperms form four separate whorls within a complete flower.

  2. A single turn of a spiral shell of a mollusk.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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