tour·​bil·​lion | \ tu̇r-ˈbil-yən How to pronounce tourbillion (audio) \
variants: or tourbillon \ tür-​bē-​yōⁿ How to pronounce tourbillon (audio) \

Definition of tourbillion

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!

First Known Use of tourbillion

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for tourbillion

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

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The first known use of tourbillion was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Tourbillion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2020.

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