vor·​tex | \ˈvȯr-ˌteks \
plural vortices\ ˈvȯr-​tə-​ˌsēz \ also vortexes\ ˈvȯr-​ˌtek-​səz \

Definition of vortex 

1 : something that resembles a whirlpool the hellish vortex of battleTime

2a : a mass of fluid (such as a liquid) with a whirling or circular motion that tends to form a cavity or vacuum in the center of the circle and to draw toward this cavity or vacuum bodies subject to its action especially : whirlpool, eddy

b : a region within a body of fluid in which the fluid elements have an angular velocity

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Synonyms for vortex


gulf, maelstrom, whirlpool

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Examples of vortex in a Sentence

a boat sucked down into the vortex

Recent Examples on the Web

But now that the dreaded polar vortex has gripped NYC, my beautiful pout is chapped and in serious need of hydration. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "I Tried A Jelly Lip Mask and It Changed My Life," 3 Nov. 2017 Turbulence, the splintering of smooth streams of fluid into chaotic vortices, doesn’t just make for bumpy plane rides. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "Flattened Fluids Help Scientists Understand Oceans and Atmospheres," 7 July 2018 Eventually, these two-dimensional systems organize themselves into large, stable flows like vortexes or river-like jets. Joshua Sokol, WIRED, "Flattened Fluids Help Scientists Understand Oceans and Atmospheres," 7 July 2018 Ortega, the former military policeman, is among those who argue that ill-prepared troops are being wrongly dispatched into a violent vortex. Steve Fisher, latimes.com, "Mexico sent in the army to fight the drug war. Many question the toll on society and the army itself," 18 June 2018 Surprise Aquatic Center The center is packed with water activities, from zero-depth areas with water features to flume and tunnel slides, a vortex whirlpool, a competition pool, a diving well and two 1-meter boards. azcentral, "45 Phoenix area splash pads, parks and water features," 14 June 2018 And Alberto's winds did provide amusement to tourists at a Panama City resort by spawning a mini-vortex at the pool. Fabiola Santiago, miamiherald, "Memo to Gov. Rick Scott: A real Floridian doesn’t get hysterical over rain and squalls," 29 May 2018 The black hole that is a work email inbox can feel like a mind-sucking vortex with a gravitational pull that threatens your very existence. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, "Gmail Is Going To Help Us Write Our Emails — Is That A Good Thing?," 11 May 2018 Friends and co-workers have seen some of my projects and gotten sucked into this modding vortex with me. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, "How to make your old Game Boy as good as (or better than) new," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vortex.' 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 vortex

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vortex

New Latin vortic-, vortex, from Latin vertex, vortex whirlpool — more at vertex

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Statistics for vortex

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vortex

The first known use of vortex was in 1652

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More Definitions for vortex



English Language Learners Definition of vortex

: a mass of spinning air, liquid, etc., that pulls things into its center

vor·​tex | \ˈvȯ(ə)r-ˌteks \

Medical Definition of vortex 

: to mix (as the contents of a test tube) by means of a rapid whirling or circular motion vortex air into a solution

Other Words from vortex

vortexing noun

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Comments on vortex

What made you want to look up vortex? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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