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or whirr

[hwur, wur] /ʰwɜr, wɜr/
verb (used without object), whirred, whirring.
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, whirring.
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 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for whir
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Twenty-seven pounds ten, remember," said Sugarman, above the whir.

  • It flared there, with noises like the whir of wings, with rumbles as of thunder.

    Youth Joseph Conrad
  • Presently a brace of prairie-chickens rose with a whir of wings.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • For a long time I heard nothing but the whir and roar of the fire.

    Youth Joseph Conrad
  • The whir of wheels, the vision of the vari-colored crowd, the murmur of voices speaking—these too had been a dream.

    The Secret Witness George Gibbs
  • They were deep in the forest when they heard a whir overhead.

    The Rover Boys on a Hunt Arthur M. Winfield (Edward Stratemeyer)
  • "whir, whir," went the wheel, so quickly that the flax could not collect its thoughts.

    Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales Hans Christian Andersen
  • After another cannon, a three-cushion one to judge by the whir, I argued no more.

British Dictionary definitions for whir


a prolonged soft swish or buzz, as of a motor working or wings flapping
a bustle or rush
verb whirs, whirrs, whirring, whirred
to make or cause to make a whir
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for whir

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
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