Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.
  • noun A place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that surrounds it, and hence being inescapable or destructive.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A whirl of fluid.
  • noun Any whirling or gyratory motion; also, a whirlpool.
  • noun In the Cartesian philosophy, a collection of material particles, forming a fluid or ether, endowed with a rapid rotatory motion about an axis, and filling all space, by which Descartes accounted for the motions of the universe. This theory attracted much attention at one time, but is now entirely discredited.
  • noun [capitalized] [NL.] In zoology, the typical genus of Vorticidæ, containing such species as V. viridis

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A mass of fluid, especially of a liquid, having a whirling or circular motion tending to form a cavity or vacuum in the center of the circle, and to draw in towards the center bodies subject to its action; the form assumed by a fluid in such motion; a whirlpool; an eddy.
  • noun (Cartesian System) A supposed collection of particles of very subtile matter, endowed with a rapid rotary motion around an axis which was also the axis of a sun or a planet. Descartes attempted to account for the formation of the universe, and the movements of the bodies composing it, by a theory of vortices.
  • noun (Zoöl.) Any one of numerous species of small Turbellaria belonging to Vortex and allied genera. See Illustration in Appendix.
  • noun (Chem.) a hypothetical ring-shaped mass of elementary matter in continuous vortical motion. It was conveniently regarded in certain early mathematical models as the typical form and structure of the chemical atom, but is no longer considered a useful model, having been superseded by quantum mechanics.
  • noun a kind of turbine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A whirlwind, whirlpool, or similarly moving matter in the form of a spiral or column.
  • noun figuratively Anything that involves constant violent or chaotic activity around some centre.
  • noun figuratively Anything which inevitably draws surrounding things into its current.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a powerful circular current of water (usually the result of conflicting tides)
  • noun the shape of something rotating rapidly

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin vortex, vortic-, variant of vertex, from vertere, to turn; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]

Examples

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Vortexes suck. See Free Associations.

    Edit: That should be "vortices." Thanks, mollusque...

    February 5, 2008

  • From the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English:

    "A supposed collection of particles of very subtile matter, endowed with a rapid rotary motion around an axis which was also the axis of a sun or a planet. Descartes attempted to account for the formation of the universe, and the movements of the bodies composing it, by a theory of vortices."

    And from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia:

    "In the Cartesian philosophy, a collection of material particles, forming a fluid or ether, endowed with a rapid rotatory motion about an axis, and filling all space, by which Descartes accounted for the motions of the universe. This theory attracted much attention at one time, but is now entirely discredited."

    July 2, 2018

  • Many years ago I saw a notice of a talk to be given at MIT: “Viscous Vortices on the Vertical Verges of Variable Velocity Vessels.” I did not attend but I have wondered since if the speaker had anything substantive to say on the subject or just could not resist alliteration.

    July 3, 2018

  • Ha! The first time I read that, I thought it said "vicious."

    July 3, 2018