spiral Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “spiral” in the English Dictionary

"spiral" in British English

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spiralnoun [C]

uk   /ˈspaɪə.rəl/  us   /ˈspaɪr.əl/
a ​shape made up of ​curves, each one above or ​wider than the one before: A ​corkscrew is spiral-shaped.downward spiral C2 a ​situation in which a ​price, etc. ​becomeslower, or a ​situation gets ​worse and is ​difficult to ​control because one ​badeventcauses another: This year's ​downward spiral of ​houseprices has ​depressed the ​market. We have to ​avoid the ​downward spiral in which ​unemploymentleads to ​homelessness and then to ​crime.

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spiralverb [I usually + adv/prep]

uk   /ˈspaɪə.rəl/  us   /ˈspaɪr.əl/ (-ll- or US usually -l-)
to ​move in a spiral: With one ​wingdamaged, the ​modelairplane spiralled ​downwards. If ​costs, ​prices, etc. spiral, they ​increasefaster and ​faster: Spiralling ​costs have ​squeezedprofits.spiral downwards (of ​prices, etc.) to ​become less, at a ​faster and ​fasterrate If a ​situation spirals, it ​quickly gets ​worse in a way that ​becomes more and more ​difficult to ​control: Violence in the ​country is ​threatening to spiral out of ​control. He spiralled into a ​drugaddiction that ​cost him his ​life.

spiraladjective [before noun]

uk   /ˈspaɪə.rəl/  us   /ˈspaɪr.əl/
shaped in a ​series of ​curves, each one above or ​wider than the one before: a spiral ​staircase a spiral ​galaxy
(Definition of spiral from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"spiral" in American English

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spiralnoun [C]

 us   /ˈspɑɪ·rəl/
a ​shape of a ​continuous, ​curvingline that ​formscircles around a ​centerpoint: A ​corkscrew is made in a spiral. fig. Roy was ​bitter about the ​downward spiral of his ​life (= it was ​becomingcontinuouslyworse).
spiral
adjective [not gradable]  us   /ˈspɑɪ·rəl/
New ​playgroundequipmentincludes a ​large spiral ​slide.

spiralverb [I]

 us   /ˈspɑɪ·rəl/ (-l-, -ll-)
to move in a spiral: The ​enginequit, and my ​beautifulmodelairplane spiraled ​downward. High ​winds spiraled around the ​stormcenter.
(Definition of spiral from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"spiral" in Business English

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spiralnoun [C]

uk   us   /ˈspaɪərəl/
a ​situation in which ​prices, ​levels, ​rates, etc. go down, or in which a ​situation gets worse and is difficult to ​control because one ​badevent causes another: a spiral of sth The world's two biggest ​economies are ​caught in a spiral of ​borrowing. This year's downward spiral of ​houseprices has ​depressed the ​market. My ​formercolleagues have been ​stuck in a spiral that continues to say, the only way we can continue our ​profitmargins is to ​cut good ​journalism, and that is to me a death spiral.

spiralverb [I, usually + adv/prep]

uk   us   /ˈspaɪərəl/ (UK -ll-, US -l-)
(also spiral up/upward(s)) if ​costs, ​prices, etc. spiral, they ​increase quickly: Costs spiral, and the patient is subjected to ​tests they don't need. Inflation began to spiral ​upward.spiral (from sth) to sth The country's ​foreigndebt spiralled from $840 million to $2.6 ​billion.
spiral downwards if ​costs, ​prices, etc. spiral ​downwards, they go down quickly: Stock ​prices have spiralled ​downwards for the past two weeks.
spiral out of control if a ​situation spirals out of ​control, it becomes impossible to ​control because one ​badevent causes another: The ​project spiraled out of ​control, ​running $300 million over ​budget. There is a great ​deal of ​evidence that ​internetgambling is spiralling rapidly out of ​control.
spiralling
(US spiraling)
spiralling ​fuelcosts
(Definition of spiral from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“spiral” in British English

“spiral” in American English

“spiral” in Business English

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