ver·​tig·​i·​nous (ˌ)vər-ˈti-jə-nəs How to pronounce vertiginous (audio)
: characterized by or suffering from vertigo or dizziness
: inclined to frequent and often pointless change : inconstant
: causing or tending to cause dizziness
the vertiginous heights
: marked by turning : rotary
the vertiginous motion of the earth
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."

Example Sentences

a 3-D effect that is likely to leave some audience members feeling vertiginous
Recent Examples on the Web This is a wild, untamed place in northwestern mainland Greece where mountain goats hop between vertiginous platforms and lush woodland abounds. Joe Minihane, CNN, 8 Nov. 2022 This gives celebrities the luxury of teetering in vertiginous, usually uncomfortable footwear. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 20 Oct. 2022 My own experience of using AI has been like standing in a river with two currents running in opposite directions at the same time: Alongside a vertiginous sense of power is a sense of humiliating disillusionment. Stephen Marche, The Atlantic, 15 Sep. 2022 The loop follows the Mesa’s spine, with huge panoramas and, at certain points, vertiginous drop-offs. Stephanie Vermillion, Outside Online, 14 Sep. 2022 In a way, Nyiragongo, a vertiginous volcano in Congo, is always erupting: The mountain is crowned by a rare, persistent lava lake constantly fed by churning magma below., 3 Sep. 2022 The intricate, slither-thin cornrows, braids with multicolored beads, and vertiginous Afros laced with ribbons served as a master class in technique and style. Funmi Fetto, Vogue, 23 Aug. 2022 How many times can Mann freak out the audience by cutting to a vertiginous shot of the unfolding crisis? Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2022 Their vertiginous metafictional comedy has been enormously influential, and has still not been matched. Gabriel Winslow-yost, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Latin vertiginosus, from vertigin-, vertigo

First Known Use

1608, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vertiginous was in 1608


Dictionary Entries Near vertiginous

Cite this Entry

“Vertiginous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Medical Definition



ver·​tig·​i·​nous (ˌ)vər-ˈtij-ə-nəs How to pronounce vertiginous (audio)
: of, relating to, characterized by, or affected with vertigo or dizziness
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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