• synonyms


[spahy-ruh l]
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  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).
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  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.
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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.
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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.
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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 for spiralling

tighten, swim, whirl, rotate, spiral, twist, turn, twirl, revolve, reel, screw, swivel, contort, wriggle, wiggle, wrench, wrap, coil, sprain, weave

Examples from the Web for spiralling

Historical Examples of spiralling

  • But this newest development in the situation caused him to open the motor and start to spiralling upward.

    The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border

    Gerald Breckenridge

  • Lufbery told us he had seen the whole thing, spiralling down after the German.

    Flying for France

    James R. McConnell

  • They are swept by it, intoxicated by its perfection, inebriated by the spiralling complexity of its forms.

    After the Rain

    Sam Vaknin

  • The Atlantis was spiralling up to her ten-thousand-foot level, and in a moment or two she was nothing more than a speck.

    The Air Pirate

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • The volan was fluttering, spiralling slowly as Georg struggled to hold his place.

    Tarrano the Conqueror

    Raymond King Cummings

British Dictionary definitions for spiralling


  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
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  1. having the shape of a spiral
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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
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Derived Formsspirally, adverb

Word Origin for spiral

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 spiralling



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.

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

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

spiralling in Medicine


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