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

Related Words for whirs

sound, fly, swish, hum, move, vibrate, whiz, bustle, swirl, revolve

Examples from the Web for whirs

Contemporary Examples of whirs

Historical Examples of whirs

  • It whirs and buzzes and backs and starts and whirs and buzzes over and over again.

    Turns about Town

    Robert Cortes Holliday

  • The whirs of the insects suggested a ceaselessly active mentality.

    The Garden Of Allah

    Robert Hichens

  • At that moment he heard the whistle of a train, and between the whirs of the wind he heard the tinkle of the signal bell.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

  • And now—eight years after—'Mahbin Mill hums and whirs more merrily than ever.

British Dictionary definitions for whirs




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 whirs



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