Etymology
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whirl (n.)
early 15c., "flywheel of a spindle," from whirl (v.). The meaning "act of whirling" is recorded from late 15c.; figurative sense of "confused activity" is recorded from 1550s. Colloquial sense of "tentative attempt" is attested from 1884, American English.
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whirl (v.)
c. 1300, probably from Old Norse hvirfla "to go round, spin," related to hvirfill "circle, ring, crown," and to Old English hweorfan "to turn" (see wharf). Related: Whirled; whirling. Whirlybird "helicopter" is from 1951.
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whirlwind (n.)
mid-14c., from whirl (v.) + wind (n.1), probably on model of Old Norse hvirfilvindr.
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awhirl (adv.)
"whirling," 1837, from a- (1) + whirl (v.).
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whirlpool (n.)
1520s, from whirl (v.) + pool (n.1). Old English had hwyrfepol and wirfelmere.
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whirligig (n.)
mid-15c., a child's toy, from whirl (v.) + gig (see gig (n.1)). Meaning "anything in constant motion" is from 1580s; "fickle, flighty person" is from c. 1600; as a type of water beetle, from 1713.
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whorl (n.)
mid-15c., "the small flywheel of a spindle," perhaps an alteration of whirl. Meaning "circlar arrangement of leaves or flowers round a stem of a plant" is first recorded 1550s. Of seashells or other spiral structures, from 1828. Related: Whorled.
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twirl (v.)
1590s, "move round rapidly" (intransitive), of uncertain origin, possibly connected with Old English þwirl "a stirrer, handle of a churn," and Old Norse þvara "pot-sticker, stirrer." Or on another guess a blend of twist and whirl. Transitive sense, "cause to revolve rapidly," is from 1620s. Related: Twirled; twirling.
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warble (v.)
late 14c., from Old North French werbler "to sing with trills and quavers" (Old French guerbloiier), from Frankish *werbilon (cognate with Old High German wirbil "whirlwind," German Wirbel "whirl, whirlpool, tuning peg, vertebra," Middle Dutch wervelen "to turn, whirl"); see whirl (v.). Related: Warbled; warbling. The noun is recorded from late 14c.
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swirl (v.)
1510s (transitive), with an isolated instance from 14c.; from swirl (n.). Intransitive sense "form in eddies, whirl in eddies" is from 1755. Related: Swirled; swirling.
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