When things turn or spin on an axis, like the seats on a whirling amusement park ride, they gyrate. When you spin a top, you watch it gyrate.

An axis is a fixed, imaginary point or line that something rotates around — the Earth, famously, turns on an axis. If an object spins rapidly around this point, it gyrates. Many kinds of engines gyrate, and so do pinwheels, windmills, and gyroscopes. Even Elvis's hips were said to gyrate! The root of the verb gyrate is the Latin word for "circle," gyrus, which in turn comes from the Greek gyros, "circle or ring."

Definitions of gyrate

v revolve quickly and repeatedly around one's own axis

reel, spin, spin around, whirl
whirl or spin like a whirligig
Type of:
go around, revolve, rotate
turn on or around an axis or a center

v wind or move in a spiral course

“the young people gyrated on the dance floor”
coil, spiral
Type of:
change orientation or direction, also in the abstract sense

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.