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whorl

[hwurl, hwawrl, wurl, wawrl] /ʰwɜrl, ʰwɔrl, wɜrl, wɔrl/
noun
1.
a circular arrangement of like parts, as leaves or flowers, around a point on an axis; verticil.
2.
one of the turns or volutions of a spiral shell.
3.
anything shaped like a coil.
4.
one of the central ridges of a fingerprint, forming at least one complete circle.
5.
Textiles. a flywheel or pulley, as for a spindle.
Origin
late Middle English
1425-1475
1425-75; late Middle English whorle, whorvil, wharwyl, Old English hwyrfel, equivalent to hweorfa whorl of a spindle + -el noun suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for whorls
  • Watching the whorls of smoke from his cigar, he found it harder and harder to concentrate.
  • The banana plant is a photosynthetic fountain that spouts leaf whorls out of its top.
  • We traveled in thick fog and through whorls of brown, blowing mist which made the woods ghostly.
  • In reality, genomes are arranged in intricate, three-dimensional loops and whorls.
  • And vail its tangled whorls, and thou shalt walk on daisies pied.
  • She glanced dubiously at it, then lifted it closer to examine the smooth gray whorls on its side.
  • Flying saucers, out of vogue for some time, were given new life by the whorls.
  • For one thing, their life histories are calcified for all to see in the delicate whorls of their shells.
  • They occur in whorls on slender branches arranged around a central flower-stalk.
  • When grown with sufficient light the leaves are bright green and form attractive compact whorls.
British Dictionary definitions for whorls

whorl

/wɜːl/
noun
1.
(botany) a radial arrangement of three or more petals, stamens, leaves, etc, around a stem
2.
(zoology) a single turn in a spiral shell
3.
one of the basic patterns of the human fingerprint, formed by several complete circular ridges one inside another Compare arch1 (sense 4b), loop1 (sense 10a)
4.
anything shaped like a coil
Derived Forms
whorled, adjective
Word Origin
C15: probably variant of whervillewhirl, influenced by Dutch worvel
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 whorls

whorl

n.

mid-15c., "flywheel or pulley on a spindle," perhaps an alteration of whirl. Meaning "circle of leaves or flowers round a stem of a plant" is first recorded 1550s. Of seashells or other spiral structures, from 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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whorls in Medicine

whorl (wôrl, wûrl)
n.

  1. A form that coils or spirals; a curl or swirl.

  2. A turn of the cochlea or of the ethmoidal crest.

  3. An area of hair growing in a radial manner.

  4. One of the circular ridges or convolutions of a fingerprint.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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whorls in Science
whorl
  (hwôrl, wôrl, hwûrl, wûrl)   
  1. An arrangement of three or more appendages radiating in a circular or spiral arrangement from a point on a plant, as leaves around the node of a stem. The sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels of angiosperms form four separate whorls within a complete flower.

  2. A single turn of a spiral shell of a mollusk.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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