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whirlwind

[hwurl-wind, wurl-] /ˈʰwɜrlˌwɪnd, ˈwɜrl-/
noun
1.
any of several relatively small masses of air rotating rapidly around a more or less vertical axis and advancing simultaneously over land or sea, as a dust devil, tornado, or waterspout.
2.
anything resembling a whirlwind, as in violent action or destructive force.
3.
any circling rush or violent onward course.
adjective
4.
like a whirlwind, as in speed or force:
a whirlwind visit to New York.
verb (used without object)
5.
to move or travel quickly.
Idioms
6.
reap the whirlwind, to suffer the penalties for one's misdeeds. Hos. 8:7.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English < Old Norse hvirfilvindr; cognate with German Wirbelwind
Synonyms
4. headlong, breakneck, hasty, impulsive.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for whirl-wind

whirlwind

/ˈwɜːlˌwɪnd/
noun
1.
a column of air whirling around and towards a more or less vertical axis of low pressure, which moves along the land or ocean surface
2.
  1. a motion or course resembling this, esp in rapidity
  2. (as modifier) a whirlwind romance
3.
an impetuously active person
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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Encyclopedia Article for whirl-wind

whirlwind

a small-diameter columnar vortex of rapidly swirling air. A broad spectrum of vortices occurs in the atmosphere, ranging in scale from small eddies that form in the lee of buildings and topographic features to fire storms, waterspouts, and tornadoes. While the term whirlwind can be applied to any atmospheric vortex, it is commonly restricted to atmospheric systems that are smaller than tornadoes but larger than eddies of microscale turbulence. The generic whirlwind is usually modified to reflect the visible features associated with the whirl; thus there are dust whirls or dust devils, sand whirls or sand pillars, and fire, smoke, snow, and even hay whirls.

Learn more about whirlwind with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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