or whirr

[hwur, wur]

verb (used without object), whirred, whir·ring.

to go, fly, revolve, or otherwise move quickly with a humming or buzzing sound: An electric fan whirred softly in the corner.

verb (used with object), whirred, whir·ring.

to move or transport (a thing, person, etc.) with a whirring sound: The plane whirred them away into the night.


an act or sound of whirring: the whir of wings.

Origin of whir

1350–1400; Middle English quirre (Scots) < Scandinavian; compare Danish hvirre, Norwegian kvirra. See whirl


[hwur, wur]

verb (used with or without object), noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for whirring

whir, humming, buzzing, hissing

Examples from the Web for whirring

Contemporary Examples of whirring

Historical Examples of whirring

  • Even as they watched the gun moved on its swivel base, whirring underneath.

    The Gun

    Philip K. Dick

  • Soon the great wheel was whirring in every New England house.

  • Grasshoppers were whirring around, among the dried trunks and the grass.

  • They deemed me an intruder, and rose on whirring wing at my approach.

    The Quadroon

    Mayne Reid

  • And his wings, why they are whirring so quickly that you cannot see but can only hear them!

    Two Gallant Sons of Devon

    Harry Collingwood

British Dictionary definitions for whirring




a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working or wings flapping
a bustle or rush

verb whirs, whirrs, whirring or whirred

to make or cause to make a whir

Word Origin for whir

C14: probably from Scandinavian; compare Norwegian kvirra, Danish hvirre; see 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 whirring



c.1400, Scottish, "fling, hurl," probably from Old Norse hvirfla, frequentative of hverfa "to turn" (see wharf). Cf. Danish hvirvle, Dutch wervelen, German wirbeln "to whirl." Related: Whirred; whirring.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper