a. A curve on a plane that winds around a fixed center point at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance from the point.
b. A three-dimensional curve that turns around an axis at a constant or continuously varying distance while moving parallel to the axis; a helix.
c. Something having the form of such a curve: a spiral of black smoke.
2. Printing A spiral binding.
3. The course or flight path of an object rotating on its longitudinal axis.
4. A continuously accelerating increase or decrease: the wage-price spiral.
1. Of or resembling a spiral.
2. Circling around a center at a continuously increasing or decreasing distance.
3. Coiling around an axis in a constantly changing series of planes; helical.
4. Printing Relating to or having a spiral binding: a spiral notebook.
v. spi·raled, spi·ral·ing, spi·rals also spi·ralled or spi·ral·ling
1. To take a spiral form or course.
2. To rise or fall with steady acceleration.
To cause to take a spiral form or course.
[Medieval Latin spīrālis, of a spiral, from Latin spīra, coil; see SPIRE2.]
spi·rali·ty (spī-rălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.