vor·​tex ˈvȯr-ˌteks How to pronounce vortex (audio)
plural vortices ˈvȯr-tə-ˌsēz How to pronounce vortex (audio) also vortexes ˈvȯr-ˌtek-səz How to pronounce vortex (audio)
: something that resembles a whirlpool
the hellish vortex of battleTime
: 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
: a region within a body of fluid in which the fluid elements have an angular velocity

Examples of vortex in a Sentence

a boat sucked down into the vortex
Recent Examples on the Web Multiple protrusions can be seen reaching out of the funnel like arms — evidence of horizontal vortexes, which usually only occur in the strongest tornadoes. Scott Dance, Washington Post, 15 Mar. 2024 Freezing temperatures:The polar vortex has left millions of Texans without power. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Feb. 2024 In other words, the creation of a Jewish state would necessarily debilitate and collapse all other forms of Jewish identity and Jewish observance in the gravitational vortex of nationhood. Gideon Lewis-Kraus, The New Yorker, 15 Feb. 2024 Due to the polar vortex that lasted in Louisville for several days, the sculpture reportedly froze to its concrete supports buried 2 feet underground during the removal process Sunday. Leo Bertucci, The Courier-Journal, 22 Jan. 2024 That mode feels snail-paced compared to today’s vortex of startling stimuli, where every career update, review, and beef related to an artist is converted into feed-flooding posts by influencer-blogs like Hyperpop Daily. Kieran Press-Reynolds, Pitchfork, 19 Jan. 2024 That means the cold air trapped at the top of the planet, called the polar vortex, escapes its normal confines and drifts elsewhere, bringing short plunges of frigid air that temporarily counteracts the overall warming trend in places, Dr. Cohen said. Seth Borenstein, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 Mar. 2024 Entering the hotel, guests immediately noticed black and white patterns, from the chess flooring to the striped optical illusions of spiral vortexes, all of which called to mind the intro of the late 1950s/early 1960s television show The Twilight Zone. Allyson Portee, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Mar. 2024 The development of these patterns — a possible response to a disruption of the polar vortex — would stack the deck for colder and stormier weather in the eastern United States. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vortex.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1652, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vortex was in 1652

Dictionary Entries Near vortex

Cite this Entry

“Vortex.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vortex. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


vor·​tex ˈvȯr-ˌteks How to pronounce vortex (audio)
plural vortices ˈvȯrt-ə-ˌsēz How to pronounce vortex (audio) also vortexes
: a mass of whirling fluid forming a cavity in the center toward which things are drawn : whirlpool

Medical Definition


transitive verb
vor·​tex ˈvȯ(ə)r-ˌteks How to pronounce vortex (audio)
: to mix (as the contents of a test tube) by means of a rapid whirling or circular motion
vortex air into a solution
vortexing noun

More from Merriam-Webster on vortex

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!