I am looking for the term describing when your hair grows kind of in a circular direction (defined by the direction of your hair root).

Many people have something like this on the back of their heads or even on their foreheads.

I found the term hair crown on dict.cc but I feel like this is either not the correct term for it or it is not very widely used. There is a German article on human hair including a section about these things but I could not find the English equivalent.

In German, these are called Haarwirbel meaning something like hair whirl.

  • 3
    "Crown" is certainly in common usage in the UK, though it is only applied to the back of the head, and not elsewhere.
    – AndyT
    Oct 5, 2016 at 15:31
  • Conceivably "comb-over"
    – SAH
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:31
  • 2
    @SAH Nope, that's a completely different thing.
    – pipe
    Oct 5, 2016 at 20:48

4 Answers 4


You probably want to use hair whorl. You'll notice that it's virtually the same as the German term, except with the alternate spelling of whorl/whirl. In English, whirl is the verb form, whorl is the noun.

  • I always called this a "whirl pool," and then when older realized it might have been "whorl pool." Oct 5, 2016 at 17:43
  • In Norwegian it's called "virvel" - and I (according to my barber) got several of them (four if I remember correctly). Oct 5, 2016 at 19:58


a lock or curl of hair which looks as if it had been licked by a cow

OED finds this in English a early as 1598


  • Is there a difference between hair whorl and cowlick? Different connotation maybe? Or is cowlick just a more informal term?
    – jera
    Oct 5, 2016 at 14:09
  • Darn! You beat me by a heartbeat! I'll delete my answer. (Nice picture!) :-) Oct 5, 2016 at 14:10
  • 8
    @jera Cowlick is slightly broader: it can also refer to non-vortex-like shapes, like if you have a bit of hair that just grows at an odd angle to the rest. Hair whorl has to be a whorl, i.e., circular/vortical in shape. Cowlick gets its name from cows licking their young, causing the hairs in the calves’ fur to lie down and stand on edge in random patterns (if that's not too much of an oxymoron). Oct 5, 2016 at 14:15
  • 3
    A difference? Well, besides the fact that I have heard of a cowlick but not of a hair whorl, maybe not.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 5, 2016 at 14:23
  • 3
    Actually, @Dave, cowlicks are whorl-shaped and can be anywhere on the head - not just like the more typical one shown in this answer. When they occur in another location, they do have a messy and disorganized look to them but that's because of the hair growing in a different direction than the neighboring hair. In terms of an answer to the question, I think cowlick is more colloquially used but by far more well-known than "hair whorl". Oct 5, 2016 at 15:32

You pretty much answered your own question.

A hair whorl is a circular growth of hair. Often called a crown or, depending on the pattern, a double-crown these are often deemed a "hairdresser's worst nightmare".


When I was younger, I learned that my guinea pig's splayed hair growth were due to "multiple hair crowns." I looked it up today on Wikipedia and the term rosettes is used:

The Abyssinian is set apart from other guinea pigs by its unique coat. The hair of an Abyssinian is approximately an inch and a half long and is marked with swirls of hair known as rosettes.


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