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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ He sat and stared at the desk in front of him, the creamy whorls in the wood, the tanned grain.
▪ If you have many whorls, few loops, patterned palms the chances are you will develop duodenal ulcers.
▪ In the whorls of the inflorescence a few juvenile plantlets develop which root readily.
▪ Other species have squat whorls, the whole ammonoid being so tightly rolled up as to be almost spherical.
▪ Roz felt the hot tightness within her curling into a whorl of anger.
▪ The whorls thus formed are smaller than the submerged form.
▪ The Cucuteni graves contained vases, beads, spindle whorls, and three Goddess figurines in each one.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Whorl \Whorl\, n. [OE. whorvil the whirl of a spindle; akin to AS. hweorfa the whirl of a spindle, hweorfan to turn; cf. OD. worvel the whirl of a spindle. See Whirl, n. & v.]

  1. (Bot.) A circle of two or more leaves, flowers, or other organs, about the same part or joint of a stem.

  2. (Zo["o]l.) A volution, or turn, of the spire of a univalve shell.

  3. (Spinning) The fly of a spindle.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

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.


n. 1 A pattern of concentric circles. 2 (context botany English) A circle of three or more leaf, flowers, or other organs, about the same part or joint of a stem. 3 (context zoology English) A volution, or turn, of the spire of a univalve shell. 4 (context archaic English) A flywheel, a weight attached to a spindle, compare 1460. vb. (context intransitive English) To form a pattern of concentric circles.

  1. n. a round shape formed by a series of concentric circles [syn: coil, roll, curl, curlicue, ringlet, gyre, scroll]

  2. a strand or cluster of hair [syn: lock, curl, ringlet]

  3. a structure consisting of something wound in a continuous series of loops; "a coil of rope" [syn: coil, spiral, volute, helix]

Whorl (mollusc)

A whorl is a single, complete 360° revolution or turn in the spiral growth of a mollusc shell. A spiral configuration of the shell is found in of numerous gastropods, but it is also found in shelled cephalopods including Nautilus, Spirula and the large extinct subclass of cephalopods known as the ammonites.

A spiral shell can be visualized as consisting of a long conical tube, the growth of which is coiled into an overall helical or planispiral shape, for reasons of both strength and compactness.

The number of whorls which exist in an adult shell of a particular species depends on mathematical factors in the geometric growth, as described in D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's classic 1917 book On Growth and Form, and by David Raup. The main factor is how rapidly the conical tube expands (or flares-out) over time. When the rate of expansion is low, such that each subsequent whorl is not that much wider than the previous one, then the adult shell has numerous whorls. When the mathematical factors governing the pattern of growth are such that there is a very rapid expansion of the conical shape, of the shell tube, then the adult shell has very few whorls.

The number of whorls present in an adult shell differs greatly in various taxa. The extant marine gastropod families Turritellidae and Terebridae, and the extinct Mesozoic family Nerineidae, have very high spired shells with a large number of whorls, and a relatively small aperture.

The shells of a few genera of gastropods, and of the cephalopod genus Spirula, have whorls that are disconnected.

asinina.jpg|The shell of the marine gastropod Haliotis asinina has fewer than two whorls fg1.jpg|The shell of Spirula spirula has disconnected whorls

Whorl (biology)

In biology, a whorl is a cluster of cells or tissue that surrounds another and wraps around another in an expanding circular pattern. Whorls occur at the ends of different structures or in the middle of structures. Structures of some organs are often described as whorls and used in the aid of identification.

The Hassall's corpuscle, formed from type VI epithelial reticular cells in the thymus, is an example of a whorl-shaped structure.


A whorl is a type of spiral or circular pattern.

Other meanings of whorl include:

  • Whorl (botany), the attachment of sepals, petals, leaves, or branches at a single point
  • Whorl (biology), the structure of some organs, used in the aid of identification
  • Whorl (fingerprint), a type of fingerprint pattern
  • Whorl (mollusc), a single, complete 360° turn in the spiral growth of a mollusc shell
    • Body whorl, in a mollusc shell the most recently formed whorl of a spiral shell, terminating in the aperture
  • Hair whorl, a whorl in the hair of an animal
  • Hair whorl (horse), hair whorls in horses
  • Spindle whorl, a weight attached to a spindle
Whorl (botany)

In botany, a whorl is an arrangement of sepals, petals, leaves, stipules or branches that radiate from a single point and surround or wrap around the stem. A whorl consists of at least three elements; a pair of opposite leaves is not called a whorl.

The morphology of most Angiosperm flowers is based on four whorls:

  1. the calyx, a whorl of sepals at the base, above which are
  2. the corolla, a whorl of petals,
  3. the androecium, a whorl of stamens (each comprising a filament and an anther), and
  4. the gynoecium, a whorl of the female parts of a flower: the stigma, style and ovary.

A flower lacking any of these floral structures is said to be incomplete or imperfect. Not all flowers consist of whorls since the parts may instead be spirally arranged, as in Magnoliaceae.

For leaves to grow in whorls is fairly unusual except in plant species with very short internodes. It does however occur in some trees such as Brabejum stellatifolium and other Proteaceae, such as some Banksia species. In examples such as those illustrated, crowded internodes within the whorls alternate with long internodes between the whorls.

Usage examples of "whorl".

Tattoos on his shoulders and arms and a whorl of little knots of flesh on his back like braille under her fingertips: scarification done with cactus needles, the man tells her.

Her lithe muscular body bore the magical marks of ritual scarification, patterning her exquisite golden skin into complex silver and blue whorls and glyphs.

Tiny, stiff blond hairs sprouted in a tiny whorl from the tagus, tickling my finger.

To look at them was to marvel at the colours, the bands of purple and orchid pink, the flaming crimson whorls, the unique striature of diamond blue or lavender or ultramarine that marked each ball of light as different from the others.

As the leaves in the whole family of the Acanthaceae stand either opposite one another or in whorls, and as these are of equal size, the great inequality between the first two leaves is a singular fact.

Glancing around, Agent Brakeman reached under the body of the machine, inserting his forefinger in a concealed whorl lock.

The floor was a wide basin of silver, while across the roof flowed a similar whorl, this one black as ink, a shadow of the one below.

Nothing, I think, has played a part more exciting than that enacted by the fascinating loops, whorls, and arches etched on the fingers of a human being.

This is not important, however, as the only patterns in which we need to define the pattern area for classification purposes are loops and whorls.

The patterns referred to are usually double loops, though accidental whorls and loops sometimes present the same problems.

This is accomplished by grouping according to the ridge counts of loops and the ridge tracings of whorls.

If no loops appear in the little fingers, a whorl may be used to obtain a final, counting from left delta to core if in the right hand and from right delta to core if in the left hand.

Normally such things remained subdued or even denied--stuff of fantasies and masturbatory visions, minor whorls in the flood.

The bundle-like buds swelled and strained and opened with a jerk, thrusting out a coronet of little sharp tips, spreading a whorl of tiny, spiky, brownish leaves, that lengthened rapidly, lengthened visibly even as we watched.

The use of a whorl in a little finger for a final is required only in connection with a large group or collection of prints, such as the 32 over 32 primary.