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


noun tour·bil·lion \tu̇r-ˈbil-yən\

Definition of tourbillion

  1. 1 :  whirlwind 1

  2. 2 :  a vortex especially of a whirlwind or whirlpool

Did You Know?

Tourbillion comes from the same root as turbine-namely, the Latin word turbo, meaning "top (as in a spinning object)" or "whirlwind." Tourbillion has been used over time to refer to other spinning objects besides an actual whirlwind. Among watchmaking enthusiasts, tourbillion is the name of a kind of watch with a mechanism designed to compensate for the effects of gravity on its movement. Among pyrotechnics fans, a tourbillion is a kind of firework having a spiral flight. The variety of meanings for tourbillion is enough to make one's head spin!

Variants of tourbillion



play \tür-bē-yōⁿ\

Origin and Etymology of tourbillion

Anglo-French turbeillun, ultimately from Latin turbin-, turbo — more at turbine

First Known Use: 15th century

Seen and Heard

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


a great number

Get Word of the Day daily email!