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[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/
a plural of vortex.


[vawr-teks] /ˈvɔr tɛks/
noun, plural vortexes, vortices
[vawr-tuh-seez] /ˈvɔr təˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
a whirling mass of water, especially one in which a force of suction operates, as a whirlpool.
a whirling mass of air, especially one in the form of a visible column or spiral, as a tornado.
See also polar vortex.
a whirling mass of fire, flame, etc.
a state of affairs likened to a whirlpool for violent activity, irresistible force, etc.
something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it:
the vortex of war.
(in Cartesian philosophy) a rapid rotatory movement of cosmic matter about a center, regarded as accounting for the origin or phenomena of bodies or systems of bodies in space.
Origin of vortex
1645-55; < Latin, variant of vertex vertex
Can be confused
vertex, vortex. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vortices
Historical Examples
  • Fifty-eight of those atrocious Dilipic vortices had been driven to ground.

    The Galaxy Primes Edward Elmer Smith
  • "Phlogiston" and "vortices" had their day and are forgotten.


    William Graham Sumner
  • vortices may be called an occult quality, because their existence was never proved.

  • The vortices, as Descartes imagined them, are not now believed in.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • Possibly, gravity does part of the work, and the vortices of Descartes interfere with it.

    Pioneers of Science Oliver Lodge
  • That there are also vortices along the frontal line of roots, or near this line.

    Pedagogical Anthropology Maria Montessori
  • Did not Descartes construct the universe with cubes and vortices?

    The Social Contract & Discourses

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Tornadoes and mighty cyclones and vortices torned and cycled vorted.

    The Book of Gud Dan Spain
  • After all it's only another example of Kelvin's theory of vortices.

    A Honeymoon in Space

    George Griffith
  • Let us try if we can reconcile these facts with the theory of vortices.

British Dictionary definitions for vortices


noun (pl) -texes, -tices (-tɪˌsiːz)
a whirling mass or rotary motion in a liquid, gas, flame, etc, such as the spiralling movement of water around a whirlpool
any activity, situation, or way of life regarded as irresistibly engulfing
Derived Forms
vortical, adjective
vortically, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: a whirlpool; variant of vertex
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 vortices



1650s, "whirlpool, eddying mass," from Latin vortex, variant of vertex "an eddy of water, wind, or flame; whirlpool; whirlwind," from stem of vertere "to turn" (see versus). Plural form is vortices. Became prominent in 17c. theories of astrophysics (by Descartes, etc.). In reference to human affairs, it is attested from 1761. Vorticism as a movement in British arts and literature is attested from 1914, coined by Ezra Pound.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vortices in Medicine

vortex vor·tex (vôr'těks')
n. pl. vor·tex·es or vor·ti·ces (-tĭ-sēz')
A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vortices in Science
Plural vortexes or vortices (vôr'tĭ-sēz')
A circular, spiral, or helical motion in a fluid (such as a gas) or the fluid in such a motion. A vortex often forms around areas of low pressure and attracts the fluid (and the objects moving within it) toward its center. Tornados are examples of vortexes; vortexes that form around flying objects are a source of turbulence and drag. See also eddy.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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