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

  • n. A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.
  • n. A place or situation regarded as drawing into its center all that surrounds it: "As happened with so many theater actors, he was swept up in the vortex of Hollywood” ( New York Times).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Any one of numerous species of small Turbellaria belonging to Vortex and allied genera. See Illustration in Appendix.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A whirl of fluid.
  • n. Any whirling or gyratory motion; also, a whirlpool.
  • n. 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.
  • n. [capitalized] [NL.] In zoology, the typical genus of Vorticidæ, containing such species as V. viridis

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

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


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

Latin vortex, vortic-, variant of vertex, from vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.


  • By morning she had slipped back into what she called the vortex, in which she “wrote like a thinking machine in full operation.”

    Louisa May Alcott

  • "It took us about two years to build this, what we call a vortex lab, and it is just starting to do some research," he said.

    Times Record News Stories

  • Sometimes, the pull of the vortex is so great that only time and distance can protect you.

    How much is enough? « Dating Jesus

  • Backyard designed by Thom Faulders looks like a vortex from the world of Tron.

    Fox News apologizes for misrepresenting footage again (link roundup)

  • The phenomenon of a 'leading-edge vortex' is known to help insects to fly; this discovery helped to work out how the bumble bee manages to stay airborne.

    Boing Boing

  • The ozone hole, first recognised in 1985, typically persists until November or December, when the winds surrounding the South Pole (polar vortex) weaken, and ozone-poor air inside the vortex is mixed with ozone-rich air outside it.

    2007 Ozone Hole Smaller than Usual | Impact Lab

  • It has recently been shown that if a vortex is created in a rotating vessel containing superfluid 3He (a), the result can critically depend on the temperature.

    The Nobel Prize in Physics 2003 - Information for the Public

  • According to a pamphlet put out by a group of zoneros from Quebec (sponsored by the Canadian Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Quebec Museum), the center of this vortex is called the "Vertice de Trino" and is located where the three states of Coahuila, Chihuahua and Durango meet.

    The Zone Of Silence of nothern Mexico - scientific marvel or just fiction?

  • The elder ladies did their part in providing delicacies and supplying all his wants; but Mrs Meg was busy at home, Mrs Amy preparing for the trip to Europe in the spring, and Mrs Jo hovering on the brink of a 'vortex' -- for the forthcoming book had been sadly delayed by the late domestic events.

    Jo's Boys

  • The golden vortex is tough to resist, you’ll be here soon enough (and others like you, too!

    Corner View- Cityscape « Bodhicitta


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  • Vortexes suck. See Free Associations.

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

    February 5, 2008