Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

maelstrom

play
noun mael·strom \ˈmāl-strəm, -ˌsträm\

Simple Definition of maelstrom

  • : a situation in which there are a lot of confused activities, emotions, etc.

  • : a dangerous area of water that moves very fast in a circle

Full Definition of maelstrom

  1. 1 :  a powerful often violent whirlpool sucking in objects within a given radius

  2. 2 :  something resembling a maelstrom in turbulence

Examples of maelstrom

  1. She was caught in a maelstrom of emotions.

  2. The ship was drawn into the maelstrom.



Origin of maelstrom

obsolete Dutch (now maalstroom), from malen to grind + strom stream


First Known Use: 1682

Other Oceanography Terms



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up maelstrom? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 6, 2016

an official order, decree, or edict

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

duvet spindrift kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ