Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

spiral

[spahy-ruh l]
See more synonyms for spiral on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. Geometry. a plane curve generated by a point moving around a fixed point while constantly receding from or approaching it.
  2. a helix.
  3. a single circle or ring of a spiral or helical curve or object.
  4. a spiral or helical object, formation, or form.
  5. 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.
  6. Football. a type of kick or pass in which the ball turns on its longer axis as it flies through the air.
  7. Economics. a continuous increase in costs, wages, prices, etc. (inflationary spiral), or a decrease in costs, wages, prices, etc. (deflationary spiral).
Show More
adjective
  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.
  3. of or of the nature of a spire or coil.
  4. bound with a spiral binding; spiral-bound: a spiral notebook.
Show More
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.
  3. Aeronautics. to fly an airplane through a spiral course.
Show More
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.
Show More

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
Related formsspi·ral·i·ty [spahy-ral-i-tee] /spaɪˈræl ɪ ti/, nounspi·ral·ly, adverbmul·ti·spi·ral, adjectivenon·spi·ral, adjective, nounsub·spi·ral, adjectivesub·spi·ral·ly, adverbun·spi·ral, adjectiveun·spi·ral·ly, adverbun·spi·raled, adjectiveun·spi·ralled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

coiledcirclingrolledwoundradialcircularcorkscrewscrewgyrequirkwhorlgyrationcoilflourishcurlicuehelixvolutecochlearhelicalhelicoid

Examples from the Web for spiral

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples


British Dictionary definitions for spiral

spiral

noun
  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)
  3. something that pursues a winding, usually upward, course or that displays a twisting form or shape
  4. a flight manoeuvre in which an aircraft descends describing a helix of comparatively large radius with the angle of attack within the normal flight rangeCompare spin (def. 16)
  5. economics a continuous upward or downward movement in economic activity or prices, caused by interaction between prices, wages, demand, and production
Show More
adjective
  1. having the shape of a spiral
Show More
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 accelerationwages and prices continue to spiral
Show More
Derived Formsspirally, adverb

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for spiral

adj.

1550s, from Middle French spiral, from Medieval Latin spiralis "winding, coiling" (mid-13c.), from Latin spira "coil," from Greek speira "coil, twist, wreath," from PIE *sper- "to turn, twist." Spiral galaxy first attested 1913.

Show More

v.

1726 (implied in spiraled), from spiral (n.). Transferred and figurative sense by 1922. Related: Spiraling.

Show More

n.

1650s, from spiral (adj.). U.S. football sense is from 1896.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

spiral in Medicine

spiral

(spīrəl)
adj.
  1. Coiling or developing around an axis in a constantly changing series of planes; helical.
Show More
n.
  1. A structure in the shape of a coil.
Show More
v.
  1. To take the form or course of a spiral.
Show More
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.