Definition of maelstrom
1 : a powerful often violent whirlpool sucking in objects within a given radius <tried to shoot the canoe across a stretch of treacherous maelstrom — Harper's>
2 : something resembling a maelstrom in turbulence <the maelstrom enveloping the country> <a maelstrom of emotions>
Examples of maelstrom in a sentence
She was caught in a maelstrom of emotions.
The ship was drawn into the maelstrom.
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of maelstrom
obsolete Dutch (now maalstroom), from malen to grind + strom stream
First Known Use: 1659
MAELSTROM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of maelstrom for English Language Learners
: 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
Seen and Heard
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