In my ears, swirl sounds better but I don't know why. I tried looking up the definition for both verbs but I couldn't find anything particularly unique for each, eg something like one of them being used only with inanimate objects. Does anyone happen to know some general rules of thumb when to use each of the verbs?

  • Twirling is more akin to spinning something around around an axis (you twirl a baton in marching band, you can twirl your hair around your finger), whereas swirl is about making something move in a more fluid, whirly or eddying motion. Liquids always swirl; twirling a liquid conjured up an image of someone magically able to control that liquid and make it move in very unnatural ways. Apr 11, 2020 at 15:04
  • Thank you, @JanusBahsJacquet. This answer was very helpful. Apr 12, 2020 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


You would use swirl for causing the liquid to move around the pan. Twirl could be used for a ribbon, hair, or even a person spinning. It makes more sense for something moving on an axis.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .