ver·​tig·​i·​nous | \(ˌ)vər-ˈti-jə-nəs \

Definition of vertiginous 

1a : characterized by or suffering from vertigo or dizziness

b : inclined to frequent and often pointless change : inconstant

2 : causing or tending to cause dizziness the vertiginous heights

3 : marked by turning : rotary the vertiginous motion of the earth

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Other Words from vertiginous

vertiginously adverb

Did You Know?

It is generally necessary to avoid crowded rooms and the vertiginous influence of the dance, one 19th-century medical work advised. We're not sure what condition this advice was aimed at, but it may well have been "vertigo," a disordered state characterized by whirling dizziness. "Vertiginous," from the Latin vertiginosus, is the adjective form of "vertigo," which in Latin means a turning or whirling action. Both words descend from the Latin verb vertere, meaning "to turn." ("Vertiginous" and "vertigo" are just two of an almost dizzying array of "vertere" offspring, from "adverse" to "vortex.") The "dizzying" sense of "vertiginous" is often used figuratively, as in "vertiginous medical discoveries may drastically change life in the 21st century."

Examples of vertiginous in a Sentence

a 3-D effect that is likely to leave some audience members feeling vertiginous

Recent Examples on the Web

Spencer Platt/Getty Images Take a step back and appreciate the vertiginous absurdity of the fact that our military is now being mobilized to defend our border from a walking caravan of refugees from Central America. David Roberts, Vox, "The caravan “invasion” and America’s epistemic crisis," 2 Nov. 2018 On the island of Ischia, near Naples, stands a fortress, a formidable set of battlements and turrets that seem to shoot out of sheer rock, with a vertiginous drop to the sea below. Sarah Dunant, New York Times, "Who Was Vittoria Colonna? Just One of Italy’s Great Poets...," 1 June 2018 The two-lane highway, which traverses vertiginous cliffs and is a popular scenic driving route for tourists, ruptured in two places from mudslides amid torrential downpours this spring. Jim Carlton, WSJ, "Big Sur Tourism Drops to a Trickle as a Scenic Drive Turns Into a Footpath," 21 July 2017 The falls in the pound, though, were contained, a far cry from the vertiginous falls that sterling experienced in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote. Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, "British Pound Falls After Boris Johnson Resigns," 9 July 2018 Dollar General intends to continue its vertiginous expansion, with plans to open another 900 shops this year. The Economist, "Thrifty livingThe profitable business of selling to the hard-up," 25 Jan. 2018 Photo: Getty North Korea, stresses in the eurozone and trade tensions have been among a number of political factors spurring often vertiginous moves in stocks, bonds and commodities in recent months. Georgi Kantchev, WSJ, "The Return of the Political-Risk Trade," 11 June 2018 When cult favorites get the musical treatment, the risks are even more vertiginous, so the stakes for Tina Fey's early-aughts comedy classic Mean Girls were especially high. Rebecca Milzoff, Billboard, "5 Takeaways From Broadway's 'Mean Girls' Musical," 9 Apr. 2018 The setting and its drama — a drama of vertiginous darkness and theatrical lighting — emphasize the environment more than the numerous small-scaled people present. Teju Cole, New York Times, "Joel Meyerowitz’s Career Is a Minihistory of Photography," 18 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vertiginous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of vertiginous

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for vertiginous

Latin vertiginosus, from vertigin-, vertigo

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Last Updated

20 Nov 2018

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The first known use of vertiginous was in 1608

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More Definitions for vertiginous



English Language Learners Definition of vertiginous

: causing or likely to cause a feeling of dizziness especially because of great height


ver·​tig·​i·​nous | \(ˌ)vər-ˈtij-ə-nəs \

Medical Definition of vertiginous 

: of, relating to, characterized by, or affected with vertigo or dizziness

More from Merriam-Webster on vertiginous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vertiginous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for vertiginous

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