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[hee-liks] /ˈhi lɪks/
noun, plural helices
[hel-uh-seez] /ˈhɛl əˌsiz/ (Show IPA),
a spiral.
Geometry. the curve formed by a straight line drawn on a plane when that plane is wrapped around a cylindrical surface of any kind, especially a right circular cylinder, as the curve of a screw. Equation: x = a sinθ, y = a cosθ, z = b θ.
  1. a spiral ornament.
  2. (in a Corinthian capital) either of two scrolls issuing from a cauliculus.
    Compare Corinthian (def 2).
Anatomy. the curved fold forming most of the rim of the external ear.
Biochemistry. alpha helix.
Origin of helix
1555-65; < Latin: a spiral, a kind of ivy < Greek hélix anything twisted; compare helíssein to turn, twist, roll Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for helix
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Sometimes the helix is prolonged so as to divide the concha in two.

    Criminal Man Gina Lombroso-Ferrero
  • The expanded metal covering was also wire tied to the helix.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • For ornaments they have a stick in the helix, or simple ornament in the ear-lobe.

  • Does the current in the wire at the top of the helix move east or west?

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • helix (Theba) cartusiana (first noticed near a Carthusian monastery).

    Our British Snails John William Horsley
  • The antihelix may be so developed as to rise in front of the helix—Wildermuth's ear.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • The figure appears to be intended to represent helix Nux-denticulata.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • A sub-genus of helix, corresponding with the genus Achatina, Auct.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • Rounded like a globe or ball, as the species of helix, represented in fig. 268.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
British Dictionary definitions for helix


noun (pl) helices (ˈhɛlɪˌsiːz), helixes
a curve that lies on a cylinder or cone, at a constant angle to the line segments making up the surface; spiral
a spiral shape or form
the incurving fold that forms the margin of the external ear
another name for volute (sense 2)
any terrestrial gastropod mollusc of the genus Helix, which includes the garden snail (H. aspersa)
Word Origin
C16: from Latin, from Greek: spiral; probably related to Greek helissein to twist
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for helix

"a spiral thing," 1560s, from Latin helix "spiral," from Greek helix (genitive helikos), related to eilein "to turn, twist, roll," from PIE *wel-ik-, from root *wel- "to turn, revolve" (see volvox).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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helix in Medicine

helix he·lix (hē'lĭks)
n. pl. he·lix·es or hel·i·ces (hěl'ĭ-sēz', hē'lĭ-)

  1. A spiral form or structure.

  2. The folded rim of skin and cartilage around most of the outer ear.

  3. A three-dimensional curve that lies on a cylinder or cone, so that its angle to a plane perpendicular to the axis is constant.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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helix in Science
  1. A three-dimensional spiral curve. In mathematical terms, a helix can be described as a curve turning about an axis on the surface of a cylinder or cone while rising at a constant upward angle from a base.

  2. Something, such as a strand of DNA, having a spiral shape.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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helix in Culture
helix [(hee-liks)]

In geometry, a three-dimensional spiral shape, resembling a spring.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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