Word of the Day : August 11, 2013


noun toor-BIL-yun


1 : whirlwind

2 : a vortex especially of a whirlwind or whirlpool


After Rocco's hat fell into the river, it got sucked into the whirlpool, and once it was drawn into the tourbillion, we never saw it again.

"Shaw refers to a study by meteorologist Bernard A. Power, who saw a tourbillon on a Quebec lake and was fascinated by its power and brevity-a hissing wind sucked spray into its vortex for ten seconds or so, then instantly vanished." - From Roy MacGregor's 2010 novel Northern Light

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!

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "fungible," our Word of the Day from July 13? The answer is …


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