verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to rotate rapidly; whirl.
to turn quickly so as to face or point in another direction.


an act or instance of twirling; spin; whirl.
something convoluted or having a spiral shape; coil; curl; convolution.

Origin of twirl

First recorded in 1590–1600; tw(ist) + (wh)irl
Related formsun·twirled, adjectiveun·twirl·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for twirl

Contemporary Examples of twirl

Historical Examples of twirl

  • Loubet, before parting with his, gave it a twirl as a drum-major does his cane.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • Well, you fellows can stay ashore if you want to, and twirl your fingers.

    Mayflower (Flor de mayo)

    Vicente Blasco Ibez

  • The captain took out a small pencil on a chain and began to twirl it.

    Image of the Gods

    Alan Edward Nourse

  • Having found the best materials at hand, he began to twirl the stick.

    An American Robinson Crusoe

    Samuel. B. Allison

  • Laughing a thick laugh, he gave a twirl to his moustache, and swaggered on.

British Dictionary definitions for twirl



to move or cause to move around rapidly and repeatedly in a circle
(tr) to twist, wind, or twiddle, often idlyshe twirled her hair around her finger
(intr; often foll by around or about) to turn suddenly to face another wayshe twirled around angrily to face him


an act of rotating or being rotated; whirl or twist
something wound around or twirled; coil
a written flourish or squiggle
Derived Formstwirler, noun

Word Origin for twirl

C16: perhaps a blend of twist + 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

Word Origin and History for twirl

1590s (n. and v.), of uncertain origin, possibly connected with Old English þwirl "a stirrer." Or else a blend of twist and whirl. Related: Twirled; twirling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper