• tourbillion
  • audio pronunciation
  • \toor-BIL-yun\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
: whirlwind
2
: a vortex especially of a whirlwind or whirlpool
  • EXAMPLES

After Rocco's hat fell into the river, it got sucked into the whirlpool, and once it was drawn into the tourbillion, we never saw it again.

"Shaw refers to a study by meteorologist Bernard A. Power, who saw a tourbillon on a Quebec lake and was fascinated by its power and brevity—a hissing wind sucked spray into its vortex for ten seconds or so, then instantly vanished." — From Roy MacGregor's 2010 novel Northern Light

  • 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!

Test Your Memory: What is the meaning of "fungible," our Word of the Day from July 13? The answer is …

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