[ spahy-ruhl ]
See synonyms for: spiralspiraledspiralingspiralled on Thesaurus.com

  1. Geometry. a plane curve generated by a point moving around a fixed point while constantly receding from or approaching it.

  2. a helix.

  1. a single circle or ring of a spiral or helical curve or object.

  2. a spiral or helical object, formation, or form.

  3. Aeronautics. a maneuver in which an airplane descends in a helix of small pitch and large radius, with the angle of attack within that of the normal flight range.

  4. Football. a type of kick or pass in which the ball turns on its longer axis as it flies through the air.

  5. Economics. a continuous increase in costs, wages, prices, etc. (inflationary spiral ), or a decrease in costs, wages, prices, etc. (deflationary spiral ).

  1. running continuously around a fixed point or center while constantly receding from or approaching it; coiling in a single plane: a spiral curve.

  2. coiling around a fixed line or axis in a constantly changing series of planes; helical.

  1. of or of the nature of a spire or coil.

  2. bound with a spiral binding; spiral-bound: a spiral notebook.

verb (used without object),spi·raled, spi·ral·ing or (especially British) spi·ralled, spi·ral·ling.
  1. to take a spiral form or course.

  2. to advance or increase steadily; rise: Costs have been spiraling all year.

  1. Aeronautics. to fly an airplane through a spiral course.

verb (used with object),spi·raled, spi·ral·ing or (especially British) spi·ralled, spi·ral·ling.
  1. to cause to take a spiral form or course.

Origin of spiral

1545–55; <Medieval Latin spīrālis, equivalent to Latin spīr(a) coil (<Greek speîra anything coiled, wreathed, or twisted; see spire2) + -ālis-al1

Other words from spiral

  • spi·ral·i·ty [spahy-ral-i-tee], /spaɪˈræl ɪ ti/, noun
  • spi·ral·ly, adverb
  • mul·ti·spi·ral, adjective
  • non·spi·ral, adjective, noun
  • sub·spi·ral, adjective
  • sub·spi·ral·ly, adverb
  • un·spi·ral, adjective
  • un·spi·ral·ly, adverb
  • un·spi·raled, adjective
  • un·spi·ralled, adjective

Words Nearby spiral

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use spiral in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spiral


/ (ˈspaɪərəl) /

  1. geometry one of several plane curves formed by a point winding about a fixed point at an ever-increasing distance from it. Polar equation of Archimedes spiral: r = a θ; of logarithmic spiral: log r = a θ; of hyperbolic spiral: r θ = a, (where a is a constant)

  2. another name for helix (def. 1)

  1. something that pursues a winding, usually upward, course or that displays a twisting form or shape

  2. a flight manoeuvre in which an aircraft descends describing a helix of comparatively large radius with the angle of attack within the normal flight range: Compare spin (def. 16)

  3. economics a continuous upward or downward movement in economic activity or prices, caused by interaction between prices, wages, demand, and production

  1. having the shape of a spiral

verb-rals, -ralling or -ralled or US -rals, -raling or -raled
  1. to assume or cause to assume a spiral course or shape

  2. (intr) to increase or decrease with steady acceleration: wages and prices continue to spiral

Origin of spiral

C16: via French from Medieval Latin spīrālis, from Latin spīra a coil; see spire ²

Derived forms of spiral

  • spirally, adverb

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