Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice:
to scratch like a dog; to twirl
Verb (derived from gyaour or giaour, ‘a dog’) ‘to scratch like a dog’.
Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.:
poet. and literary.
1. A turning round, revolution, whirl; a circular or spiral turn. 1566 DRANT Horace’s Sat. II. Bij, Fashions..Which..do cum, and goe in circled gyre. 1590 SPENSER F.Q. II. v. 8 To ward, Or strike, or hurtle rownd in warlike gyre. 1603 B. JONSON Satyr, Pardon, lady, this wild strain,..Elves, apply your gyre again. 1614 BP. HALL Recoll. Treat. 494 Other Artizans doe but practise, we still learne; others run still in the same gyre, to wearinesse..our choice is infinite. c1620 T. ROBINSON M. Magd. 786 Like to ye top, yt in his gyre doth spin. 1649 BULWER Pathomyot. II. i. 71 In all these we may easily maintaine the gyre or circumaction of the Head. 1669 W. SIMPSON Hydrol. Chym. 78 Whirling them in oblique gyres. 1814 CARY Dante, Inf. XVII. 93 Be thy wheeling gyres Of ample circuit, easy thy descent. 1829 SOUTHEY Inscrip. Caled. Canal 2 The glede Wheeling between the mountains in mid air, Eastward or westward as his gyre inclines. 1856 MRS. BROWNING Aur. Leigh IV. 1167 Graduating up in a spiral line Of still expanding and ascending gyres. 1920 W. B. YEATS Michael Robartes 34 All our scientific, democratic, fact-accumulating, heterogeneous civilization belongs to the outward gyre. 1928 Coll. Poems (1950) 217 O sages standing in God’s holy fire… Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre. 1929 Let. (1954) 764, I believe I shall have a poetical re-birth for as I write about my cones and gyres all sorts of images come before me. 1930 R. CAMPBELL Adamastor 98 A serpent..With lifted crest and radiant gyre Revolving into wheels of fire. 1948 C. DAY LEWIS Poems 1943-47 64 Earth-souls doomed in their gyres to unwind Some tragic love-tangle. 1962 Listener 20 Dec. 1047/2 It is deeply satisfying both as riddle and as poem. The poet evokes an atmosphere of mystery within the frame of the eternal gyre.
2. concr. A ring, circle, spiral; also, a vortex. 1590 SPENSER F.Q. III. i. 23 She rushing through the thickest preasse Perforce disparted their compacted gyre. 1629 MASSINGER Picture II. ii, He..dispersed the armed gire With which I was environed. 1686 GOAD Celest. Bodies II. vii. 244 To hurry a great Ship downright in a Dismal Gyre, down into the deep. 1718 BLAIR in Phil. Trans. XXX. 893 The Cochlea is a long Cavity consisting of three Gyres or Meanders. 1848 LYTTON Harold V. i, The smoke rises in dark gyres to the air. 1881 ROSSETTI House of Life, Sonn. xliv, Ah! in your eyes so reached what dumb adieu, What unsunned gyres of waste eternity? 1892 W. E. HENLEY Song of Sword, Lond. Voluntaries iv. 10 In genial wave on wave and gyre on gyre. ¶3. ‘A trance’ (Cockeram 1623). Obs.–0 Prob. a mistake. Cf. the following: 1612 DRAYTON Poly-olb. v, Streames in whose entrancing gyres Wise nature oft herselfe her workmanship admires. 4. Comb., as gyre-circling adj. 1881 ROSSETTI Rose Mary, Beryl-song, Gyre-circling spirits of fire.
poet. 1. trans. To turn or whirl round. rare. c1420 Pallad. on Husb. I. 327 The side in longe vppon the south, let sprede..gire hit from the colde west, if thow conne. 1628 BP. HALL Rem. Wks. (1660) 25 With the spightful Philistim, he [the Devil] puts out both the eyes of our apprehension and judgement, that he may gyre us about in the Mill of unprofitable wickednesse. 1885 G. MEREDITH Diana Crossways xxii, She was out at a distance on the ebb-sands hurtled, gyred, beaten to all shapes.
2. To revolve round, compass. Obs. c1420 Pallad. on Husb. x. 203 September is with Aprill houris euen, ffor Phebus lijk in either gireth heuen.
3. intr. To turn round, revolve, whirl, gyrate. 1593 DRAYTON Eclog. II. 71 Which from their proper Orbes not goe, Whether they gyre swift or slow. 1598 YONG Diana 10 When to the west the sunne begins to gyre. 1633 P. FLETCHER Purple Isl. II. xxxvii, A..groom..Which soon the full-grown kitchin cleanly drains By divers pipes, with hundred turnings giring. Ibid. IV. viii, Round about two circling altars gire In blushing red. 1808 J. BARLOW Columb. III. 785 Mutual strokes with equal force descend..now gyring prest High at the head, now plunging for the breast. 1814 SOUTHEY Roderick XII, The eagle’s cry, Who..at her highest flight A speck scarce visible, gyred round and round. 1871 ‘L. CARROLL’ Through Looking-Glass i. 21 ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. 1920 W. B. YEATS Demon & Beast in Coll. Poems (1950) 210 To watch a white gull take A bit of bread thrown up into the air; Now gyring down and perning there. 1930 E. POUND XXX Cantos xxv. 114 Three lion cubs..which born at once began life and motion and to go gyring about their mother. 1951 S. SPENDER World within World v. 283 The bomber was gyring and diving. Hence gyring vbl. n., revolution, gyration. gyring ppl. a., revolving, whirling, gyrating; also, encircling, encompassing; whence gyringly adv., with revolving motion. 1575 LANEHAM Let. (1871) 18 With sundry windings, gyrings, and circumflexions. 1590 PEELE Polyhymnia 36 At the shock The hollow gyring vault of heaven resounds. 1594 J. DICKENSON Arisbas (1878) 72 One colour teinteth all, Turrets, doores, and gyring wall. 1598 Greene in Conc. (1878) 150 Wind-tossed waues which with a gyring course Circle the Centers-ouerpeering maine. 1635 QUARLES Embl. IV. ii. (1718) 193 This gyring lab’rinth. 1635 HEYWOOD Hierarch. II. 63 They [the Heavens] alter in their gyring more or less. a1640 DAY Parl. Bees (1881) 76 The massie world..That on Gyreing [so MS.] spheares is hurld. 1659 TORRIANO, A-gironda, giringly, about and about.« Back to Glossary Index