Definition of maelstrom
- tried to shoot the canoe across a stretch of treacherous maelstrom
- the maelstrom enveloping the country
- a maelstrom of emotions
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She was caught in a maelstrom of emotions.
The ship was drawn into the maelstrom.
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Maelstrom comes from an early Dutch proper noun that literally meant "turning stream." The original Maelstrom is a channel that has dangerous tidal currents located off the northwest coast of Norway. The word became popularized in the general vocabulary of English in reference to a powerful whirlpool, or something akin to one, in the 19th century. This was partly due to its use by writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne (whose writing was widely translated from French) in stories exaggerating the tempestuousness of the Norwegian current and transforming it into a whirling vortex.
First Known Use: 1659See Words from the same year
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