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[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.
Also, whirr.
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
  • Mingled their sounds with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.
  • It doesn't believe the sweet whir of overhead cam engines, the responsiveness they exhibit, plays at all into the buying decision.
  • Adult males flutter above the water, their wings a whir.
  • It is spacious, smooth and silent, effortlessly whisking you along with only the whir of its electric motor.
  • Mechanical scream replaced by relatively soothing whir.
  • Except for the whir of the car brushing the tracks clear of snow, the streets are hushed.
  • The whir-whoosh whir-whoosh of the water sloshing around was better than any lullaby.
  • Sophisticated machinery and computers abound and whir.
  • The heavy drone of the private neighborhood generator slowly eased down into a familiar whir, marking its shutdown for the night.
  • The city was silent, except for the whir of helicopters.
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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