1. To move around in a twisting, winding, gyrating motion. Dust swirled around the old shed as we stepped inside. Blood swirled around in the water as it dripped from my hand into the sink.
2. To encircle and move around someone or something in a twisting, winding, gyrating motion. A noun or pronoun can be used between "swirl" and "around." Cold water swirled around my ankles as I stood fishing in the stream. Smoke swirled around the people as they fled the war-stricken village.
3. To spread and circulate among a particular group of people or in response to the actions of a particular person or thing. Fearful uncertainty has been swirling around the population as the government continues to threaten its secession from the trade union. Scandal continue to swirl around the disgraced movie producer as more and more people come forward to allege abuse and mistreatment.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
[for dust or a fluid] to circle around. The liquid swirled around in the flask as Toby shook it up. Dust swirled around the room in the sunlight.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. To move with a twisting or whirling motion; eddy: It's hard to fly a kite when the wind swirls around like this.
2. To move around something with a twisting or whirling motion, as in an eddy: As I stood in the river, the water swirled around my legs. The snow swirled around us.
3. To apply something in swirls over some area: The baker swirled the icing around the cake. I swirled syrup around the pancakes.
4. To circulate among some group of people in response to a particular subject: Rumors swirled around Hollywood.
5. To circulate or occur in response to something or someone that is controversial, provocative, or secretive: Rumors swirled around the governor. Controversy swirled around the new budget.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.