whirl, whorl

The words whirl, whorl sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do whirl, whorl sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: whirl, whorl are homophones of the English language.

  1. :: verb-intransitive

    To revolve rapidly about a center or an axis. See Synonyms at turn.

  2. :: verb-intransitive

    To rotate or spin rapidly: The dancer whirled across the stage.

  3. :: verb-intransitive

    To turn rapidly, changing direction; wheel: She whirled around to face him.

  4. :: verb-intransitive

    To have the sensation of spinning; reel: My head is whirling with data.

  1. :: noun

    A form that coils or spirals; a curl or swirl: spread the icing in peaks and whorls.

  2. :: noun

    Botany An arrangement of three or more leaves, petals, or other organs radiating from a single node.

  3. :: noun

    Zoology A single turn or volution of a spiral shell.

  4. :: noun

    One of the circular ridges or convolutions of a fingerprint.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").